Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has released the third iOS 9.3 beta to registered developers for testing, and it includes native support for Wi-Fi calling on Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) network, meaning users won't need to download an app to make a Wi-Fi call.
"Verizon is committed to offering new choices that deliver the best customer experience. We began offering Wi-Fi Calling on some devices last year and are now preparing to offer Wi-Fi Calling to customers using iOS devices," Verizon spokesman Scott Charlston said in a statement to FierceWirelessTech.
Apple this week seeded the third beta of its upcoming iOS 9.3 update for testing purposes. MacRumors notes that the third iOS 9.3 beta is available as an over-the-air update and through the iOS section of the Apple Developer Center.
An Apple Wi-Fi calling support page says that in order to place a Wi-Fi call, users in the U.S. need an iPhone with AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint; it doesn't list Verizon -- yet. Apple enabled Wi-Fi calling in its iOS 9 update and T-Mobile and Sprint have offered Wi-Fi calling for quite some time, but AT&T sought an FCC waiver from TTY rules before it started offering it last fall. Verizon subsequently ended up asking for and receiving a temporary waiver related to TTY as well.
That's not to say Wi-Fi calling hasn't been available on newer iPhones at Verizon, however. The operator last year rolled out a version of its Verizon Messages app that enabled users to make Wi-Fi calls from their newer iPhones. In that situation, users needed to have advanced calling enabled on their iPhone, the latest Verizon Messages app and calling enabled within the app. That app worked with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s or 6s Plus.
In addition, Verizon in December started offering Wi-Fi calling on some Android devices, starting with the Samsung Galaxy S 6 and Samsung Galaxy S 6 Edge, rolling it out as a software update in phases. It also promised to add Wi-Fi calling to more Android and iOS devices via future software updates early this year.
Verizon says all Wi-Fi calls made to U.S. phone numbers are free. Calls made to foreign numbers are billed at international long distance rates.
Similar to AT&T, it looks as though Verizon, through the Wi-Fi calling set-up process, will ask for users' physical addresses in order to provide a location to 911 operators if a user calls 911, according to images posted at 9to5Mac.
Operators say they want to make Wi-Fi calling available so that customers can make calls in areas where a cellular signal is tough or impossible to get.
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