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WhatsApp voice calls now work on Android

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If you've been sitting, wishing and waiting for your Android handset to let you make free data-based calls, then today's your lucky day. Our chums over at Engadget Spanish have discovered that WhatsApp's long-promised voice calling is now available on Android. Once updated, Facebook's app provides a new tab that'll let you dial friends on top of texting them. So how does it work? I gave it a whirl over here in France, calling my colleague Richard Lai in Hong Kong. Though the quality was clear, there were a couple of technical glitches. On one call, a one-to-two second delay made a conversation challenging, and on another, Richard complained about an annoying echo. Several other attempts were problem-free.

However, those could be early teething problems, and similar issues are typical with other VOIP services (hello, Skype). Also, at 6,000 miles apart, France to Hong Kong is nearly a worst-case scenario for internet-based calls, with plenty of hubs to ping through. If you do have a poor connection, a quick redial might fix it.

To get calling, you may need to be patient. First off, the update may not have arrived to all the regions where the wildly popular app is used, and even if it has, it may work intermittently. One UK user told us that his call contacts list was empty and that no one picked up when he rang. Nevertheless, it worked for several of us Engadget editors and our Spanish confrères. It's only available on Android for now, but WhatsApp founder Brian Acton recently said it would hit iOS in the near future.

Daniel Cooper contributed to this report.

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