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April 02, 2014

Viber Updates Windows 8 Phone App to Allow International Calls

Is the world heading to a point where people will only pay mobile service providers for 3G access, forsaking voice and texting minutes? The answer is most likely no, as it is highly unlikely that mobile service providers will allow a service that only gives access to 3G/4G services. With Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, however, it is a possibility. VoIP services create an ability to make calls, videos, and messages costing almost nothing. Users connect to the internet, either through 3G/4G networks, or through Wi-Fi, and have access to a range of VoIP services. For most of these services, a user may call other users of the service for free. Users buy minutes to call non-users. Smartphones users have been signing up and downloading VoIP apps in an attempt to save minutes and money.

Four Israelis created one of these VoIP services, Viber, in December 2010, releasing the first version of their service for the iPhone. A little over a year later, they released an Android version of their product. Today, Viber can be found on all major devices, and has grown to have 200 million users, competing with VoIP titans Skype and Whatsapp.

In December 2013, Viber made steps to draw more users to their services. Viber announced the release of their Viber Out service. Viber Out allows users to call any number, mobile or landline, at what Viber advertises as low costs. Initially, Viber Out released for Android or iPhone users.

Windows 8 Phone users have been left out of the light. That is, until now. On April 2, Viber announced that an update had been made for Windows 8 Phone users. Part of this update is the inclusion of Viber Out, allowing users to make those non-Viber international calls.

The new Viber update will also include the ability to send videos to other users, or multiple photos at the time.

Viber Out is not necessarily an original idea. The service is following in the footsteps of Skype, who released their own international call service, Skype Out.  Also, users may feel that Viber is still missing out on important features. For example, Viber does not allow users to leave voicemail.

Viber was recently bought, in February 2014, by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten for $900 million.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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