The immensely popular BlackBerry Messenger service is soon set to tread on the toes of Skype and Viber by offering free voice calls over Wi-Fi.
‘BBM’, as it’s known, is used by millions every day to send and receive instant messages and files, but for free video calling users have been swayed to use third party alternatives. Now RIM is looking to give its users an all-in-one solution by bringing out BBM version 7 with BBM Voice.
It’s a pretty simple solution in essence, with a call button placed in the top right corner of every BBM conversation. A single tap initiates a call to a contact, while incoming BBM Voice calls will be displayed full screen, similarly to a regular incoming call. While on a voice call you’ll be able to go into BBM and continue chatting via text to the same contact and other contacts, with the option to use your BlackBerry’s external speaker providing a hands-free solution.
You’ll be able to tell which of your contacts are already in a Voice call too, with a user’s status changing to reflect whether they’re in a call or not.
BBM Voice calls will be free when connected to Wi-Fi, and will also work using your mobile data connection, although the call will use your monthly data allowance. BBM is already incredibly popular because it offers a way of chatting instantly and constantly to anyone with a BlackBerry anywhere in the world for very little, so free voice calling is bound to add even more popularity.
BBM 7 with BBM Voice is currently only available in the BlackBerry Beta Zone, so if you want to be one of the first to use it, head on over there now and set yourself up with an account. For those who don’t want to go down this route, RIM says the BBM 7 update should be hitting phones in the very near future, so hopefully there won’t be much of a wait.