Anyone looking for a Skype alternative or simply needing a free call and text app for their BlackBerry? The very popular Viber may be the perfect choice.

The BlackBerry version has been updated with a handful of new features, while HD voice calls could be ready as early as April. That means all the new BlackBerry 10 devices debuting Jan 30 should be included.

Free VoIP Calls Regardless of Carrier

Viber works with all the major mobile phone software systems, but for BlackBerry devices, the free calls have yet to be enabled. The problem with that is Skype for BlackBerry hardly makes up for it. Skype for BlackBerry only works on the Verizon network in the US, and only on certain devices.

For current Viber users, there is a UI update, and v2.3 offers the fun stickers and emoticons that had previously deployed on Android and iOS devices. Stickers are similar to the emojis but with a bit of a different style and with more detail.

Version 2.3 also adds a view location screen, improved Facebook integration and the ability to connect with groups of up to 40 people. Furthermore, locations can be sent as messages, and the Stripes view conversation screen has been optimized along with scrolling for message viewing.

As for voice calls, the feature will no doubt be a welcome one because it will allow calls to go out across mobile platforms, so users can make free calls to other Viber users on iPhones, Android and Windows Phone 7 devices. Version 2.3 is available in English, Spanish and Arabic.

Why Free Calls Still Matter

In the US, voice and data plans are still incredibly expensive for most smartphone users who buy from the major carriers. Subsidized pricing of new hardware is the primary reason. Carriers have to make their money back, and so they lock people in to two year plans that make up for the discounted phones.

With programs like Skype and Viber, people can at least keep from going over their minutes and adding unnecessary charges to their bills.

Of course, for those with data capped plans this might be moot because the VoIP calls do use up data. We suspect many people are choosing plans that offer more data than mobile minutes these days, so there is a bit of wiggle room on this problem. We welcome the kind of environment Viber offers to people precisely because it probably irks the crap out of the major carriers. 

We need more disruption in this space, so hopefully the Viber for BlackBerry becomes a success. Perhaps even Skype will update its app so it at least works with more than just Verizon.