News by Andrew Kameka on Thursday November 15, 2012.
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RIM has released a new version of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) that includes BBM Voice, a new feature that enables free voice calls between BBM users who are connected to a Wi-Fi network. BBM Voice works by tapping a call button during a text conversation. If both users are connected to Wi-Fi, they can initiate a voice conversation that does not incur long distance charges or use up their monthly minutes allowance.
BBM Voice is fully integrated into BBM, so the phone calls work seamlessly between text and audio conversations. The feature may prove useful when a voice call can resolve an issue faster than writing back and forth, but users can just as easily go back to text when the call is finished. BBM displays a split-screen during voice conversations, so users can continue to text, check email, or send pictures while holding a conversation. It also supports Bluetooth and wired headsets incase the user wishes to multitask using a hands-free option.
BBM includes indicators that show when someone is on a Voice call and options to decline incoming calls with a text message. The app requires BlackBerry OS 6 or later, but RIM plans to introduce support for BlackBerry OS 5 at a later date. Users with a compatible device can download BBM 7 from the BlackBerry Beta Zone.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.