Outside of the iconic email experience, the number one BlackBerry feature that is in near cult status is BlackBerry Messenger. Today, that feature takes a firm step in the right direction, with the introduction of BBM Voice, a slick implementation of voice inside of BBM.. If you and your contact are both on BBM7, and both connected to a WIFI network, one click and you can call your contact, free of charge.
There are a couple of awesome benefits to this. As we become a more global society, free calling to contacts across all borders without ridiculous fees is lucrative. Living in Michigan, 30 minutes from Canada, I cross the border quite a bit to visit a couple of my customers. It’s a nice feature for me, and for the extreme business travelers I can see this being even more of a benefit. In addition to that, we all have some contacts we really don’t want to give our phone number to. I have a couple customers who I feel more comfortable talking to over BBM or email, but really don’t want them to have total accessibility to my cell number. This is a perfect marriage for me in this scenario.
In addition to bringing the voice aspect to BBM, there are 16 new emoticons added to BBM7 as well. RIM is really attempting to further its customers’ engagement via BBM. With over 60MM active users of BBM, and growing in viral fashion, the voice and emoticons are crucial to expansion. With what we’ve heard in the past, and the specs out there to a certain degree on the upcoming BBM10 devices, you can certainly expect to see BBM Video chat coming down the road.
Sound off in the comments. Is this something you can see yourself using? Just neat fluff? Somewhere inbetween?
Starting today, Novemeber 14th, head on over to www.blackberry.com/beta and take it for a spin!
Screen shots and official press release from RIM below!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BBM Now Lets You Have Voice Chats for Free Over Wi-Fi
WATERLOO, ON – For the times when you want to hear a friend’s laughter instead of reading LOL, BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) is taking the social networking experience to a whole new level with an exciting new feature called BBM Voice. Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today announced BBM version 7, a free update for the globally popular mobile social network, which will allow customers to make free voice calls to other BBM customers in the world over a Wi-Fi® connection*.
BBM is a fast, convenient and inexpensive service for BlackBerry® customers that gives them the ability to instantly chat with a friend, family member or colleague, and know when their message has been delivered, and read. With the new version of BBM, customers have a new option – they can talk with their BBM contact across the globe for free over a Wi-Fi connection. In an instant, customers can switch between texting and talking, or talk and text at the same time. For consumers, especially in developing markets, the BBM Voice feature offers an attractive way to talk with friends and family near and far, and staying in contact will be easier than ever as the holiday season approaches. For business customers, BBM Voice allows for enriched collaboration.
“BBM is the quick, easy way to stay connected to the people that matter to you, and with today’s announcement we’re expanding the capabilities of the service for deeper social engagement and even greater collaboration, beginning with voice functionality,” said T.A. McCann, Vice President of BBM and Social Communities at RIM. “The new BBM Voice feature is for when you’re travelling and you want to call home without worrying about phone charges. It’s for when you have news you can’t wait to share, for quickly explaining complicated details, and collaborating with colleagues. Whenever your ideas are too big for text, there’s BBM Voice.”
BBM Voice includes a number of convenient features.
- Customers can initiate a BBM Voice call directly, or instantly switch from a BBM text chat to talk, and back again.
- The split-screen feature allows customers to talk and text at the same time, so for example, they can send a picture to their contact while talking with them. They can also check other BBM text chats, check email, or navigate to other apps while engaged on a BBM Voice call.
- BBM provides a visual indicator that shows when contacts are available for a voice call.
- BBM Voice is compatible with any accessories a customer has now for making voice calls on their BlackBerry smartphone, such as a Bluetooth® or wired headset. Customers can also use BBM Voice over their BlackBerry smartphone’s speakerphone.
- If it’s not an ideal time to talk, customers can simply choose to respond by texting back.
Another important feature of BBM version 7 is its integration with a customer’s BlackBerry ID, which is designed to back up their BBM profile, groups and contacts so they can automatically be restored in the event they switch to a new BlackBerry smartphone, including to a BlackBerry® 10 device.
BBM version 7 with the new BBM Voice feature is currently available in Beta for BlackBerry smartphones running the BlackBerry® 6 OS or higher with support planned for smartphones running the BlackBerry 5 OS at a future date. The Beta can be downloaded for free from BlackBerry Beta Zone**. Customers can sign up to BlackBerry Beta Zone for free at www.BlackBerry.com/betazone
For more information about BBM version 7 and BBM Voice, please visit www.BlackBerry.com/betazone.
* BBM requires a BlackBerry service plan. The BBM Voice feature requires a Wi-Fi connection with access to the Internet and may not be available in all markets.
** BlackBerry Beta Zone is not available in all markets.