Update (2.35pm): Singtel has confirmed that all current features are free and will stay free in the future.
SINGAPORE - Singtel today launched its own chat app, Wavee, allowing users to make "high-quality voice and video calls".
The new app, which some people are saying is Singtel's response to Whatsapp, is free to download and use (for all users, regardless of which telco you're subscribed to), and "does not allow advertising".
To encourage adoption of the app, Singtel is waiving local data charges for Wavee usage on Singtel lines for three months, until July 9.
Singtel said in its release that users can "make high quality voice, VOIP and video calls, send instant messages and SMSes" from the app. Users can also "attach photos, videos, sketches, audio files and documents to messages" and can send messages and files while on a voice call.
Mr Johan Buse, Singtel's vice-president for consumer marketing, said that Wavee is "a holistic, end-to-end service".
Singtel also said that Wavee is able to detect the strength of each user's network and "optimise the call quality for the best experience".
No plans to monetise current features
A spokesman for the company said that the app had been in the planning for "some time", and is not a direct response to Whatsapp's recent new feature to allow voice calls in the app.
There are also no plans, so far, to monetise the current features in Wavee. The app will stay free and ad-free.
When asked how Singtel plans to monetise the app, the spokesman said that there may be new features in the future, but re-emphasised that the company does not have plans to monetise any current features or to allow ads.
Android users will be able to integrate SMSes into the Wavee message box, so that they need not toggle between two apps. The feature will be available to iOS users "soon".
Wavee also has "locally themed stickers", in an effort to be fun.
Singtel said that both caller and receiver must have the app to enjoy free calls at launch, but a new feature in the latter half of the year will allow calls from the app to any local number.