Viber, the company behind the popular free messaging and voice calling smartphone app of the same name, has some good news for millions of BlackBerry owners that have been unable to call their friends via the dedicated BlackBerry app — the feature has been developed and will be launched in April.
Today, the company has released version 2.3 for BlackBerry devices — its third biggest userbase — introducing its new user interface and conversation screen and porting its new sticker and emoticon features from the recently updated iOS and Android apps.
Even though the app now boasts localisation support for Arabic and Spanish, improved Facebook integration, optimised scrolling and support for group conversations up to 40 participants, the announcement of Viber’s voice calling feature for the BlackBerry platform will undoubtedly outshine today’s release.
Viber also teased a new video (embedded below) demonstrating voice calling between a BlackBerry device and an iPhone, giving users a firm April deadline for its rollout. The company says that including voice calls in its BlackBerry app has “represented a significant technical challenge” but with it working, it may become one of the first VoIP apps to successfully bring a cross-platform calling service to BlackBerry.
“We have worked hard to ensure a consistent Viber experience across all of our supported platforms. This is especially true for Blackberry, which is our third most popular platform,” said Talmon Marco, CEO of Viber. “We have invested significant resources in making Viber for Blackberry the best experience possible for our users. Ultimately, this experience will include voice calling, and we are thrilled to demonstrate that feature for our users.”
Despite RIM’s focus on the release of BlackBerry 10, which is due to be unveiled at the end of the month, the Canadian mobile maker continues to sell millions of BlackBerry devices, especially in emerging markets.
While BlackBerry 10 will almost certainly remove many, if not all, of the obstacles Viber faced when including voice calling in its app, the release will still be significant for device owners looking to connect with their friends and family around the world, regardless of platform.
In regards to a BlackBerry 10 app, Viber says it is “working with RIM to keep improving Viber on all versions of Blackberry, including the version to come.”
Viber now counts over 150 million users in 193 countries (up from 140 million in December 2012, 100 million in September 2012 and 90 million in July 2012). As well as iOS, Windows Phone and Android, Viber also offers apps for Nokia (S40 / Symbian) and Bada, although the latter two don’t (yet) include support for the free voice calling feature.
➤ Viber – BlackBerry