In an update to Japanese chat app LINE’s announcement of three new features last month, the firm has launched an Android version of a seemingly low-cost IP phone service LINE Call (or better known as Line Denwa in Japan) in eight countries: Columbia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand and the US. An iOS version is slated for release in the near future.
The service will only be made available for users who have verified their mobile numbers, as opposed to those who have only verified their accounts with Facebook. Users can now call both, mobile and landline in over 200 countries and regions for a fee. As the cost-per-minute of a call will be shown on the dialling screen directly, “bill shock” can definitely be ruled out of the picture.
LINE, however, is not the first to compete with Skype in the open call market. In December 2013, Israeli firm Viber, who was recently acquired by Rakuten, had introduced Viber Out, which allows users to phone non-users for a fee. Even Facebook-owned WhatsApp will be working hard to launch a voice call service by June 2014.