Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that holds the BlackBerry patent, is fighting hard to remain a worthy competitor in the current battle over smartphone supremacy. The latest salvo fired by RIM in the battle is aimed squarely at Microsoft and the personal communication devices powered by the Windows Phone and Windows 8 operating systems. The BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service is adding a Voice feature that will allow free calls over its proprietary network wherever a WiFi signal is available.
BBM Voice is being rolled out as a beta feature for version 7 of the popular mobile application. Users running BlackBerry OS version 6 can test BBM Voice now, and RIM is planning to extend the feature to BlackBerry OS 5 in the future.
Here are three things BlackBerry users should know about these exciting new features:
1- BBM Voice Means Free Phone Calls
RIM has relied on its BlackBerry proprietary global communications network to gain an edge over competitors. The BBM service and application rely on the strength of the network to connect millions of BlackBerry users around the world. BBM already works on RIM’s mobile network and over the Internet, but the new voice feature will only work over the Internet.
BBM Voice enhances the BlackBerry experience by enabling users to make free phone calls between WiFi connected devices. Many of BlackBerry users are businesspeople who often find themselves traveling. BBM Voice will give them an opportunity to make international phone calls to other BlackBerry users for free.
2- Microsoft is on RIM’s Sights
The BBM Voice beta announcement comes in the heels of Microsoft’s update to Skype, the most important acquisition the tech giant has made in recent years. Skype is one of the most popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services in the world, and Microsoft has chosen it to replace the popular MSN Messenger. Skype users have enjoyed the same functionality of the new BBM app in terms of voice and instant messaging, but RIM seems intent on highlighting the exclusiveness of free telephone calls and simultaneous instant messaging on its own devices.
3- How to Stay Connected with BBM Voice
Now that BlackBerry users are able to talk to each other in addition to staying in touch via instant messages, high-level collaboration is possible. Should users become disconnected from a WiFi connection while using BBM voice, they can always rely on RIM’s global network to continue their conversation via text messages. RIM promises that switching from voice to text will be a seamless experience thanks to a split-screen interface.