Blackberry to Introduce Free Calls

To help close the gap with its rivals, Blackberry is offering free calls via Wi-Fi to its users via its own software. The program, named ‘BBM Voice’ is currently being offering in a beta mode, which signals that further work still needs to be done on the software before it is released properly.

Research in Motion (RIM) has added the new feature to its existing Blackberry Messenger (BBM) application, which already offers an alternative to text messages. BBM Voice will only work if both the caller and the recipient have the new program installed.

Along with the launch of Blackberry’s new operating system, Blackberry 10, on January 30th, this latest endeavor marks Blackberry’s latest attempt to keep its users loyal to the platform ahead of its new launches in 2013.

BBM has previously been able to send voice notes whilst third-party applications such as ‘TringMe’ and ‘MobileVoip’ have allowed users access to free calls via the phone.  However, with this new feature, users will be able to use the popular BBM text tool at the same time as having a free phone conversation with the recipient.

The new feature helps to bring RIM one step closer to re-joining the smartphone pack with rivals like Google and Apple but RIM still lacks things such as video chat functionality and 3G support which are found in Skype, Facetime (Apple) and Google+ hangouts. Microsoft and Google also have the added benefits of being able to work on other mobile platforms apart from their own Windows phones and Android-based systems.

One industry watcher said that the move though would still be appreciated.

“It drives value to the current generation of Blackberry devices and RIM may introduce video when it launches the next system,” Graeme Neill, deputy editor of Mobile Today magazine.

“One of the key strengths of Blackberry has been its BBM ecosystem, which is still extremely popular with kids to message each other for free.

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