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BlackBerry Messenger to Support Voice Calls over Wi-Fi

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Research in Motion has upgraded its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) text messaging service to support voice calls, when made over a Wi Fi connection.

With the new version of BBM, customers can switch between texting and talking, or talk and text at the same time.

"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.

A 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.

The upgraded service also provides a visual indicator that shows when contacts are available for a voice call.

Another 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.

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.

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Tags: research in motion  blackberry messenger  wi-fi