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Summary:

BlackBerry 6 OS devices now have a new BBM feature: Voice calls over Wi-Fi. The software, which is coming to BB 5 as well, can help BlackBerry users talk and text at the same time, while cutting down on voice minute usage; good for emerging markets.

BBM-feature

Research In Motion launched version 7 of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service on Tuesday, adding voice calling to the software. The new feature, dubbed BBM Voice, uses Wi-Fi networks for the voice calls and has a split screen mode allowing users to talk and text at the same time. Sill in beta, BBM Voice is available for BlackBerry 6 OS devices with plans for BlackBerry 5 OS support in the future.

Here’s a rundown of the BBM Voice features, per RIM’s news release:

  • 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.

Adding voice capabilities to BBM is an idea that’s long overdue, but will certainly add value to the service. In areas where voice minutes are still limited or expensive — think emerging markets where RIM still has a loyal, happy user-base — Wi-Fi calling is a perfect supplement to the chat experience.

  1. does this use any standard technology like SIP or XMPPJingle?

    it seems like we are ending up with a bunch of walled garden voice services that can not communicate with each other.

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    1. Exactly. I’m glad the author emphasized that this is really only a useful feature in markets where people still use Blackberries.

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  2. This is a welcome development for RIM,but I will suggest the calls are not made using wifi alone. Take for instance most people in Africa were the market is very profitable @ the moment, they do not have access to wifi.calls should be routed via mobile network.

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  3. please make it for blackberry curve 8520 it also supports wifi then y the hell bc we cant use those

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