WhatsApp is set to add the ability to send and receive voice messages through its app for the first time.

The firm, bought last week by Facebook, will launch the service within weeks in a bid to take on phone firms.

CEO Jan Koum said the voice service will be deployed for Android and iPhones first, with Blackberry and Microsoft and Nokia phones coming later.

‘We are going to introduce voice in WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year,’ Koum said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

‘I think we have the best voice product out there.

‘We use the least amount of bandwidth.’

WhatsApp currently has a voice function but only in note form. This new service will be live.

On Wednesday, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in a deal that is by far the biggest by the social networking company and any other done by Google, Microsoft or Apple.