WhatsApp is now making its highly sought after voice calling feature available to everyone who owns an Android device, after several weeks of dangling the carrot to users by requiring them to receive an invitation to activate the feature.
Previously, users needed to wait for someone with voice calling activated on their WhatsApp to call them to turn on the feature on their own device. This time, users will simply need to download the latest version of the app to be able to start using it for calls. However, WhatsApp is taking its time making version 2.12.19, the latest version, available on Google Play. That means, users who cannot wait to call people on WhatsApp will need to learn how to sideload apps.
Fortunately, sideloading apps on an Android device is fairly easy, even for people who have never sideloaded anything before. Just a word of caution: Never sideload an app from an unreliable source. Since the source of this app is WhatsApp, which was purchased by Facebook for $19 billion, it appears to be legitimate and should not be a problem for most users.
To sideload the latest version of WhatsApp, one must download the Android application package (APK) file for the App available from the WhatsApp website or from an APK mirror site. Also, be sure that the device allows the installation of apps from other sources aside from Google Play. To do this, go to the phone's Settings > Security and select Unknown sources.
The downloaded APK file will go directly to the Downloads folder, or whichever folder was set as the default for containing downloaded files. Go to that folder and simply open the WhatsApp APK file. This will automatically set up the installation process for the app. Once installed, WhatsApp 2.12.19 will show a new Calls tab on the home screen right next to the Chats and Contacts tabs. To make calls, simply tap the little call icon on the top of the screen and choose which contact to call.
Meanwhile, iPhone users will have to wait a little longer to receive the latest version of WhatsApp, although users with jailbroken iPhones can now also activate the voice calling feature but will have to find someone to call them first.
Speaking at Facebook's F8 developers' conference last week, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton said voice calling for iOS will be available in "several weeks."
WhatsApp has been touting a voice calling feature since last year. At the Mobile World Congress in 2014, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum promised a rollout that would start with Android devices followed by iPhones before making the feature available to Windows Phone and BlackBerry.