WhatsApp just made voice calls more affordable


WhatsApp, the incredibly popular messaging service, has just received a spate of updates that make using the service – and especially the newly implemented voice calls feature – better than ever.

At the moment these updates are for Android devices only, and they haven't been officially released through Google Play. Instead you need to manually download the APK file and install it yourself.

As for the updates themselves, the ability to use WhatsApp to make and receive phone calls has been given a new option that lets you lower the amount of data used when making voice calls.

This is handy if you're mobile phone contract offers a limited amount of data each month. It should also help out in areas with limited mobile data coverage.

We tried out voice calling in Low data mode, and found that there was little in the way of noticeable drops in sound quality, so it looks like it's a perfectly viable option.

Group notifications and more

The stream of updates also introduces custom notifications settings that let you mute chats for eight hours, one week or a year, as well as allowing you to customise when popup notifications appear.

You can now also tap and hold conversations to mark them as unread, which can be used as a helpful reminder to return to a convo later on. Plus, you can back up chats to Google Drive, though this feature isn't fully implemented yet.

The WhatsApp Android app hasn't been officially updated with these changes yet, so at the time of writing you won't see these features if you rely on Google Play to keep your apps updated.

If you can't wait to try out the new features, you can download the update file manually, though you have to ensure that your Android device allows downloads from unknown sources (which can be found in the Security area of the Settings menu).

We haven't heard whether or not these new features will make their way to the iOS version of WhatsApp, but its unlikely they will remain exclusive to Android for long.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.