BlackBerry Messenger 7 exits beta, offers free voice chat features

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Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) officially released the latest version of its BlackBerry Messenger mobile social networking service, adding new voice calling capabilities as well as expanded notifications and synchronization features.

RIM said Monday that the new BlackBerry Messenger 7, issued in beta in mid-November, will be available for download from its BlackBerry World storefront within the next 24 hours. Optimized for devices running BlackBerry 6 and higher, with support expanding to BlackBerry 5 early next year, BBM 7 enables consumers to make free voice calls to other BBM users across the globe over a Wi-Fi connection. A split-screen feature allows toggling between messaging and voice options--users may also talk and text at the same time, enhancing business collaboration possibilities.

Consumers engaged in BBM Voice calls may additionally check other BBM text chats, view email, or navigate to other BlackBerry apps. The BBM platform identifies which contacts are available for voice conversations, and in the event the call recipient is not free to chat, they can respond to the caller via text.

Beyond voice features, BBM 7 boasts deep integration with the consumer's BlackBerry ID, which enables simplified access to BlackBerry applications, services and products. BlackBerry ID now backs up the user's BBM profile, groups and contacts in the event a device is upgraded or lost. Version 7 also brings in-app alerts to notify users when updates are available for download, as well as 16 new emoticons.

Research In Motion will unveil its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system on Jan. 30. Features include the new BlackBerry Flow user interface highlighted by BlackBerry Hub, which enables simplified access to all messages, notifications, feeds and calendar events. BlackBerry 10 also boasts BlackBerry Balance, which separates personal applications and information from encrypted work profiles, enabling organizations to protect their data while giving users the flexibility to optimize their devices for personal use.

For more:
- read this Inside BlackBerry blog entry

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