Hike, the popular instant messaging client from India has added the much-anticipated voice-calling feature to its messaging app. The feature enables users to place free voice calls to other Hike users using internet data.
The company has been rather aggressive about bringing this feature to its service. It was just earlier this month, when it announced that it had acquired Zip Phone, a US-based company which lets users make calls over Wi-Fi. A week later, alleged images of the service leaked onto the web, giving us an idea about the forthcoming feature.
Zip Phone, acquired by Hike, lets users place calls over Wi-Fi. The app, which is available on both Android and iOS, automatically switches to VoIP call if it detects a Wi-Fi connection and if both parties have the app installed on their phones. On iOS, however, users are required to open the app manually to place a call from it.
The voice-calling feature, as of now, has only been rolled out to its Android client, and requires both parties to have the latest software update. The voice-calling functionality is in beta phase, and hence offers limited features such as the ability to pause a call and put it on speaker. To place a call, users are required to open their friend’s profile, and then click on the dialer icon.
Hike’s increasing focus towards bringing the voice calling feature to its service could be credited to a similar announcement by WhatsApp from last year in which it said that it will be adding voice-calling capability to its app by 2014. However, the company later postponed the launch time frame, and is now expected to roll out the feature sometime this year.
The interesting point to note here is that Hike Messenger is backed by Bharti Softbank and has been founded by Kavin Bharti Mittal, the son of Sunil Bharti Mittal. Airtel, recently announced plans of charging extra for VoIP services. The carrier, however, decided to put its plans on hold till TRAI decides on a consulting paper on the issue.