Users of Whatsapp, a mobile chat application, have a new way to share messages with friends.
The app, which claims more than 300 million subscribers, will now permit users to record and transmit voice messages. Adding voice messages is expected to boost the app’s appeal in emerging markets like China, India and areas of Africa where literacy is low, English isn’t the primary language and typing messages on smartphone keyboards is less popular than elsewhere, the BBC notes.
There is no time restriction on voice messages sent through Whatsapp and senders can see when a recipient has played the message. The move is meant to make the app more competitive against rising competition in the messaging app market. Whatsapp service is priced at 99 cents a year.
At least one analyst said the new feature was also likely a early test of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology by Whatsapp in advance of rolling out a calling feature in the future.