WhatsApp has become the de facto messaging platform for a lot of users these days, with the majority of young people using the service instead of SMS or something similar. Not only is WhatsApp incredibly cheap when connected to the internet, but there's a good chance that whomever you want to talk to is already using WhatsApp, and it's really easy to get started with as well. With so many people using the service every day, it's no wonder that new features get quite a bit of attention. Voice Calling is a new feature that has been in the works for some time now, and it looks like there's no longer a need to be invited to use it any more, as it's rolling out to new and old users alike, provided they have the latest version of the app installed from the Play Store.
I actually didn't have an active WhatsApp account until just this morning (yes, there are some of us left out there) when I wanted to try the new feature. I downloaded the latest version of the app from the Play Store, and found a friend willing to help me out, I was then able to call him once he had downloaded the latest version of the app from the Play Store as well. The version I'm talking about is 2.12.5, although I am hearing the latest version is 2.12.19. In any case, 2.12.5 is what we downloaded this morning and it worked just fine. This could be a server side switch, and the latest version is required in order to make sure everyone is able to call each other across the network, but it looks like you'll need to update before the feature will work.
There are many reasons WhatsApp would want to offer free voice calling in their app, not only because it will ensure users stick with the service, but also because it will challenge the likes of Skype and Viber. Services like WhatsApp and Viber are popular in emerging nations where WiFi is easier found than a decent phone signal. As such, users rely on WhatsApp to contact their friends cheaply and reliably, with this new voice calling feature, they've added another great feature to the app, and one that is sure to cause a stir in the instant messaging industry.