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How to use the new BBM Voice and BBM 7 setup guide

Today, Research in Motion (RIM) are launching a brand new version of their BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) client with some brand new features, specifically a new Wi-Fi calling feature known as BBM Voice. BBM Voice allows you to make and receive calls to and from your BBM Contacts for free using a Wi-Fi connection!

As BBM Voice is built directly into BBM, all you need to do is open up a chat with a friend anywhere in the world and you will see in the top right hand corner an icon which indicates if they are available for a call. If its grey, one of you isn't connected to Wi-Fi, red means that they are busy and if it’s green, you’re good to go! Simply tapping on the icon will start a call and from there, it looks and feels like a normal voice call, but can be to someone on the other side of the world, all for free!

New icons in BBM

You’re not connected to Wi-Fi, check Manage Connections or tap the icon to set up your Wi-Fi!

Your contact is not available for a BBM Voice Call! Try sending them a BBM first to let them know you want to talk!

You’re both good to go! Simply tap the icon and the call will start!

New features

Being on a call to a friend via BBM Voice doesn’t mean you are limited to just speaking either! You can switch back to the text chat to share pictures, files or even type “LOL” instead of laughing, BBM text chat with other contacts, send emails, text, browse the web and everything else you expect from your BlackBerry handset, whilst still in the call! Just think of the possibilities over the festive season! You can call friends and family all over the world to wish them a merry Christmas and even use it on New Year’s Eve when the mobile networks are being bombarded to ensure that you wish a happy new year to those you're closest to, so long as they own a BlackBerry of course.

Not only the festive season, but throughout the year you can use BBM Voice calls from home or abroad, or call friends and family who are abroad on holiday without having to worry about roaming costs or receiving a huge bill at the end of the month! Alternatively, you could use BBM Voice for all your day to day calls with BlackBerry friends to save on your monthly calls allowance.

In addtion, with BBM 7.0 RIM have included 16 brand new emoticons; a new in-app update feature which lets you know when there is an update to BBM and also a new backup and restore feature using your BlackBerry ID! This new backup and restore feature simply requires you to remember you BlackBerry ID (BBID) login details and from there, it will automatically backup and restore your contacts, groups and even on going conversations whenever you switch to a new device, simply by signing in. No longer do you have to worry if your BBM contacts are backed up, and if you couple this with BlackBerry Protect you can seamlessly backup and restore your BlackBerry smartphone without the use of a computer, or simply use both features to ensure peace of mind that your contacts, calendars, text messages and more are always safe from loss!

Things to look out for

One thing to keep in mind however, BBM Voice is only available to BlackBerry owners, running OS 6.0 and above so don’t expect to be able to use it to call landlines or those who are using an iPhone or android device just yet, and it is limited at this time to being available on Wi-Fi only! RIM have announced that they will be supporting BBM Voice on BlackBerry OS 5.0 at a later date and there may even be the possibility to expand it to the 3G networks too!

I have been using BBM Voice as part of the BlackBerry Beta program for a month now and find the call quality phenomenal and I have used it to call friends all over the US, Canada and even family in Australia (time zone permitting, of course) which has allowed me to hear their voices for the first time in a number of years! Yes, there are alternatives out there, most notably in Skype, FaceTime and Google Voice, but for me, this is the most convenient way to keep in touch and makes me love my BlackBerry more and more each day!

So, keep an eye out for an update to your BBM and then ensure your Wi-Fi is connected, your friends have updated their BBM to the new 7.0 and get calling. A word of caution though - It may take up to 24 hours for the app to appear in BlackBerry App World so don't panic if you can't see it just yet!

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