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Opinion: Does integrated VoIP support in iOS 10 signal the beginning of the end for voice plans?

The first true mobile phones back in the 1980s did exactly one thing: phone calls. It wasn’t until 1994 that carriers introduced what was then a revolutionary idea – using mobile phones to send text messages. I’m old enough to remember when only geeks did it, and it took several years before it really took off as a mass-market thing.

Fast-forward to today and, for many of us, the very least-frequent thing we do with our phones is use them to make phone calls. When I do make a voice call, I’m as likely to use a VoIP app like FaceTime or Skype as I am the actual phone app on my iPhone.

With iOS 10, Apple makes that behaviour likely for even more people. The VoIP API effectively allows apps like Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook calling and others to be integrated into the iPhone every bit as deeply as the phone app itself …

The example shown on stage at the keynote (video below) was an incoming WhatsApp call that showed up on the lockscreen in exactly the same way a phone call would. No longer does it matter what method someone uses to call us, we can answer it in exactly the same way.

Similarly with outgoing calls, the API means that all our preferred VoIP apps are baked into Contacts, so we can make a Facebook call to them as easily as we can a conventional phone call.