updated 10:58 am EDT, Mon March 17, 2014
Android app users gain Line Call, iPhone to follow
Messaging service Line is expanding the usability of its Android app, and soon iPhone, from being able to make free calls to other Line members, by adding the option to call phones. Line Call will let users make calls to people in eight markets at a flat rate per minute, bringing the messaging app into direct competition with Microsoft's Skype, as well as potential calling plans from WhatsApp.
Users in eight countries will be able to update their client to use the new call options, reports TechCrunch, including the United States, Japan, Mexico, Columbia, and Spain, with China and others expected to be enabled in the near future. While the user's own mobile number will be shown as the caller to the recipient in most cases, it is noted it "may not be displayed correctly in some regions."
Landline costs range between 2 cents to 12 cents, depending on the country, with mobile calls priced at up to 16 cents per minute. Just like Skype, users can prepay for an allocation of credits to pay as they use, or can opt for a 30-day subscription that provides an allocation of minutes each month.
The move to offer calls to phones comes at a time when Line faces increased pressure from competitor WhatsApp. In February, Line was believed to have 340 million users, down from WhatsApp's 465 million. While WhatsApp has yet to reveal its plans, a leak over the weekend claims to show the calling interface for the app on the iPhone, suggesting it is not too far off from becoming a reality.