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I AM enraged right now, and I believe I will be so for quite a while.

My thoughts on phone calls are well on the record and available here, and I am so clear about this that I have a series of ‘Reject Call’ SMS templates that generally read, “Sorry…please SMS or WhatsApp.

Initially, they should have read, “Please SMS” but the popularity of WhatsApp is so pervasive that I would be a fool to ignore it in my mainstream life.

I don’t like WhatsApp as much as most people do, but I make use of it because it is so easy, costs less than SMS for much more value, and most people use it. I much prefer it to phonecalls, as I say in that blog post, but I also reserve it for certain specific purposes because let’s face it: we have much more to do in life than share images, videos and chats.

The app itself is marvellous in organising and mobilising people into groups and disseminating information (but please don’t stop using Bulk SMS from the usual sources!). Some developments it has introduced over time have revolutionarised the way we interact, socialise and do business.

One feature that I always found secretly useful was the one where you could record sound and send it by holding down a button. This was much simpler, cheaper, more effective and reliable than most ‘Voice SMS’ products the telecommunications companies had introduced.

For a couple of my groups, birthday messages were taken to a whole new level with this feature, as we took to shouting, singing, rapping and reciting our messages on special mornings in a way that rendered email and texts with emojis obsolete.

Fun and games, it was, right up to this week.

You cannot imagine my dismay when messages started doing the rounds that WhatsApp had introduced ACTUAL phone calls within the app!

There are other apps that have tried this out, with varying rates of success that WhatsApp is going to blow out of the water with data harpoons.

Viber, for instance, was all the rage for a while but I can confirm to you that I haven’t used that app in more than a year.

Facebook’s Messenger app also tried this nonsense with me, but I don’t even accept Facebook messenger messages in general because I don’t understand HOW my friends on there expect me to be available to say hi to so many people individually while retaining a life elsewhere. The only people who could do that are people who can walk from home to work and exchange pleasantries with just about everybody they lay eyes on as they make progress!

WhatsApp, however, will succeed (but not with me) because it started by gripping us all with its instant messaging text feature. Even an avowed Google user such as myself finds that WhatsApp has locked down many more ordinary users, so much so that I have succumbed to its use for business communication in more instances than I care to share with the world.

The fact that you can keep your WhatsApp profile and messages regardless of what SIM card you place in your phone is almost like number portability.

And it is that proximity to the mobile phone business that I am hating right now; because people ARE actually using WhatsApp to make phone calls. And they are calling me!!!

Why?

Definitely NOT because they think I will accept them easier because of the message ‘Please SMS or WhatsApp’, since the intent of that message and the circumstances under which I send it make it obvious that voice is NOT my preferred medium of communication.

I sincerely think it’s because of one feature of this WhatsApp app that I myself have fallen prey to more than once in these couple of days past – the ‘Call’ or ‘Dialer’ icon.

Previously, this icon enabled me to transfer the call ID of my WhatsApp contact to my Dialler app (that’s what it’s called) for further action such as SMS or copy number et al. But now, with the call function enabled and launched, it immediately activates a WhatsApp call!

Dammit!

This is a clean ten (10) on the ‘Mobile Phone Irritation Scale’ (for me) of 1 (one) to 10 (ten)!

WhatsApp needs to stick to the promise it started out with and be an INSTANT MESSAGING app. Nothing more, nothing less.

INSTANT MESSAGING and NOT bloody calling.

For me, at least.

Otherwise I will soon become like those dinosaurs who say things like, “NO! I am NOT on WhatsApp!”

  • Joseph Kaizzi

    Interesting article. I share the same sentiments about the WhatsApp call feature and honestly think its going to be one of those cool things that people never really used (MMS is another). The ‘record voice’ functionality worked pretty well and they should have instead improved it further to have say a welcome message from the other user. But then again, sometimes we can be wrong about these things. Lets see how things play out over the next few months.

  • dsa

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  • Luciano Tumminello

    Whatsapp calls are awesome. Thanks whatsapp and we are waiting for video calls feature as well. Cheers!