BBM 7 beta is open now, adds Voice feature for free calls over WiFi

RIM's BlackBerry 10 launch isn't scheduled until January 30th, but BBM faithful can try out a new feature on their existing handsets -- voice calling. Brand new for BBM 7 it lets users bypass the text chat their thumbs have been used to and directly talk via the service, as long as they're connected to a WiFi network, no 3G / 4G allowed. That connection restriction takes some of the shine off, but BlackBerry users traveling to / living in far locales with minute-restricted SIM cards or less reliable infrastructure make make the most use of it. Voice allows for direct initiation of calls, switching from text chat to a call, using both in split screen and has an indicator to let users know when their friends are open for a chat. That's not the only BBM 7 upgrade however, as the service is now deeply integrated with one BlackBerry ID, which backs up their profile, groups and contacts for easy switching to a new device. Currently BBM 7 is available in beta for BlackBerry OS 6 or higher smartphones, with support for BlackBerry 5 planned "at a future date." If you're interested, hit the Beta Zone to sign up for access at the link below, or check out the press release after the break for more details.

[Source: Engadget]