Viber is a VoIP tool that is gaining popularity and is reaching its hundred million users. It doesn’t offer a lot of functions, but there are two that take it out of the lot: it allows you to communicate using VoIP for free bypassing your mobile carrier, but while using your GSM phone number, and it allows group messaging. It works on Wi-Fi and 3G. On the down side, free calls and text messages are only possible to Viber users, that is there is no possibility to make (even paid) calls to landline and other phone numbers, and the app is not available for platforms other than Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
- No need to register, use your mobile phone number.
- Unlimited free calls and text messages to other Viber users.
- Group text messages.
- Huge user base.
- No calling and messaging to non-Viber users.
- Not available for most phone models including Nokia, Symbian etc.
- Reduced quality with low Wi-Fi or 3G signals.
Viber is getting famous as it makes things free between peers. You have a set of friends that use Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad), BlackBerry or the latest Windows Phone, you get them to install Viber on their devices and register their phone numbers – you are set to make ever free calls and group messaging among yourselves. This applies even if some of your correspondents are abroad, because it used only the Internet to channel its calls and messages.
The first thing that I found interesting is that you do not need to register or sign in when using the service. Once you download the app to your device, you are asked to enter your phone number and you are given an access code through SMS, which you type in on activation. You are then identified through your mobile phone number on the huge user-base of Viber.
Group messaging is another thing that I found interesting, but many other apps have preceded Viber in this. The app allows you to select and add contacts from your address book for participation.
The app integrates your phone’s address book and each time you decide to make a call or send a text message to a contact, you are prompted to either place a regular call (or SMS) through your mobile carrier to the contact or to make the call or send the message using Viber. Before initiating anything in the event Viber is selected, the number is verified to see if it is registered with Viber, as free service is allowed only to those.
The app isn’t very heavy on resources and installs quite quickly. It is simple to use. It runs in the background (if you allow it to do so of course) taking advantage of the multitasking possibility of new smartphones. Viber also allows you to post and send photos and map locations.
A word about connectivity. Viber does not use your GSM architecture and service to channel the calls and messages. You need to have Internet connection through either Wi-Fi or 3G. Things will remain free if you use Wi-Fi, with chances of maintained good call quality, but you will then be terribly limited in mobility. When you use 3G on the move, take into consideration that you would be paying for each megabyte of data used on your data plan. Some of you, in some regions and with certain operators, might find that the service is blocked because apps and services like this stand as serious threats for mobile carriers.
You have a Nokia or a Symbian phone? Viber isn’t for you. Maybe because these don’t really have a future. Viber has good apps for Android and iOS. While the list of supported Android devices is quite long, you won’t get the app with an iPhone, for instance, whose version is earlier than 3GS. The BlackBerry and Windows Phone apps are quite limited, and as I write this, these two do not yet have voice call support.
Read more on how to install Viber on your smartphone and get it running.