BlackBerry Messenger Gets Phone Calls Via Wi-Fi

By Cory Orlando | Dec 10, 2012 03:52 PM EST

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Research In Motion (RIM) has updated their BlackBerry Messenger to allow users to communication through text and voice. The newest version of the BBM service lets you make free phone calls to any of your BBM contacts over a local Wi-Fi connection. 

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The user can now start a conversation with a contact through text and then finish his conversation on the phone. There is also a preference to let your BBM contacts know that you are available for a voice call. RIM had launched a beta version of the app last month and following the flood of positive feedback, it was only a matter of time before the feature came out of testing. 

"Among the surveyed customers who tried the beta, 90 percent said they would use BBM Voice while traveling," RIM said. 

The new voice feature enables BBM users not only to save time but also save money, especially if one makes frequent international calls. Currently only devices running BlackBerry 6 support this feature though devices running BlackBerry 5 are also expected to get this feature early next year. 

However, the voice feature isn't the only new feature to arrive on BBM. Making multitasking much easier on your BlackBerry device, RIM has introduced a split-screen feature that helps the user to toggle between tasks such as e-mail and making phone calls without having to change screens. Also, updating the BBM has now become even more convenient with a direct update notification feature. BBM will now notifiy the user when there is an update and let users go directly to the app and download it immediately. 

A feature that has been much sought after by BlackBerry users, and is finally here, is the ID synchronization. All contacts, groups, and BBM profile are all linked to a user's BBID for easy backup. This feature makes the restore process and the move to BlackBerry 10, set for early 2013 launch, very simple. 

BBM users can now download the free update through BlackBerry App World, although it may take up to 24 hours for it to show up in the storefront.

Do you think the new BBM Voice will be a feature that might help RIM regain its presence in the smartphone race?

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