Independently verified by NDTV Gadgets, the two new call buttons visible in the WhatsApp iOS app (v2.11.15 – currently available on the App Store) for now only bring up the standard iPhone dialler, rather than placing a VoIP call through WhatsApp. This should change when WhatsApp finally rolls out the functionality.
One button, near the contact name within a chat conversation, features the phone symbol, while the other is present on the left side below the top pane, and reads ‘Call’. The new buttons are definitely a new addition to the interface, and seem to be independent of the regular call feature via the dialler, which is still accessible when the user opens a contact’s info page and navigates to the phone number.
Notably, the rollout of the new interface with the call buttons for the WhatsApp iOS app is much wider than last week’s Android rollout of the fully-functional voice calling feature to some users. Anyone can download the latest version of the iOS app with the functionality from the App Store, but of course, the feature is not yet operational on iOS.
On the other hand, the WhatsApp for Android app currently available on Google Play or the company’s site does not feature the new call buttons, or offer the voice calling functionality to all users. Users who do report seeing the new functionality, say a Calls tab and a New Call symbol are visible, as also seen in the screenshots and video shared by users.
The much-anticipated free voice calling feature for WhatsApp is not rumoured, and was confirmed to be in development by CEO Jan Koum last year. Koum said the feature would rollout in Q1 2015, giving the company nearly two more months to make good on its promise. Some of the difficulties Koum said the team was facing in implementing the feature included issues like how the app doesn’t have access to certain microphones on the smartphone to properly enable noise cancellation, and how exactly to implement the feature in poor data coverage areas.