Viber Media Inc. have released a free iPhone application that acts pretty much the same as the built-in iOS Phone application, only it routes the call to VoIP (voice over IP) if the recipients also have Viber installed on their handset.
Viber works on both 3G and WiFi and, according
to Apple pundit John Gruber, who gave the app a spin recently, the voice quality knocks the socks off AT&T’s service.
Admittedly, there are a few downsides to using Viber as a replacement for your iPhone’s Phone app, Gruber notes. The benefits, however, seem to make up for it.
While Viber doesn’t make much sense to download and use the app on AT&T’s 3G network, since AT&T offers free calling between iPhone users, it does make a difference for those calling outside their country.
“Viber is an iPhone application that lets you make free phone calls to other iPhone users that have Viber installed,” the developer explains.
“When you use Viber, your phone calls to any other Viber user are free, and the sound quality is much better than a regular call.”
“You can call any Viber user, anywhere in the world, for free. All Viber features are 100% FREE and do not require any additional ‘in application’ purchase,” the iTunes description reveals.
The Viber interface is also quite similar to that of Apple’s Phone application. Users needn’t sign up for anything, add contacts etc.
The app simply shows your existing contacts where you can pick one up to call and, should they have Viber installed as well (while connected to WiFi or 3G), the conversation will be automatically handled via the VoIP protocol.
Basically, the main benefit is that there are no hidden costs. This includes no international charges, which means it doesn’t matter where you or your friends are
“You can talk for as much as you want, for free. Just make sure your friends have Viber too,” the company explains.
It works for placing and receiving regular (cellular) calls too, of course. If the recipient / caller is not a Viber user, the call is transferred over to the iOS Phone app.
Viber always has to listen for incoming calls. It does this through push notifications.
“If your phone is ON then so is Viber. Always ready to make and receive phone calls. No need to log in, or “go online” to receive a call,” explains Viber Media Inc. You also get missed call notifications.
The app is also coming to iPod touch and iPad soon enough, Viber Media said, alongside new features like free text messages, more ringtones, wallpapers, location based services and more.
The service is coming to Android and Blackberry smartphones as well. Download Viber for iOS (Free)