With all the texting that people do these days, it’s naturally taken a messaging app to re-introduce the act of using our voices to communicate.
WhatsApp, the increasingly ubiquitous global messaging app, has launched “voice messaging,” a new feature that will let users record and send audio files with one tap on their smartphones. UPDATE: WhatsApp has announced the feature on its blog; the post includes a video demo, also embedded below.
The messaging company, which has 45 employees and is based in Mountain View, Calif., confirmed a report in AllThingsD that the service would allow users to press and hold the microphone on their keyboard to send a voice message, a bit like using a walkie-talkie.
Said to be a brainchild of the US-based company's co-founder and CEO Jan Koum, the new feature allows users to just hold to record a message and release to send it.
There is also a blue blinker notification that lets users know when the message is received. In case the user decides not to send the message, a swipe to the left and the recording is deleted. All this is built into a single tap. There is also no time-length limit for the recorded messages. Also, the volume automatically switches from speaker when held at arm's length to soft when held next to an ear.
WhatsApp also announced that it now has 300 million global monthly active users, surpassing 20 million monthly active users in four countries: Germany, Spain, Mexico and India.
With the introduction of voice messaging feature, the company hopes further strengthen its user base globally.
WhatsApp was founded by Koum and Brian Acton, both ex-staffers at Yahoo and has become one of the world’s largest messaging apps by active users. It may only surpassed by Tencent’s WeChat (or Weixin), the popular Chinese messaging app that was estimated by researchers at Portio to have 300 million active monthly users in April 2013. Following behind, according to Portio’s research, was texting and calling app Viber with 175 million users, and LINE, of Japan, with 100 million users in January 2013.
WhatsApp has remained independent in spite of widely-reported rumors that Google and Facebook were both interested in buying the company. It also refuses to show ads, instead making money by charging users 99 cents (in the United States) after the first year of use. It used to charge the fee once, upfront for new iOS users, but recently switched them to the “freemium” business model it was using for Android devices.