A few months back, I was introduced to an app on the iOS platform called Viber, developed by Viber Media Inc. It’s a free download from the Apple App Store, and not a lot people use it or even know about it. Which is a surprise really, since this app is a smart-phone owner’s dream: it lets you make free calls and send free text messages from your phone!
The app is a small download (at just under 13 MB), and is totally free on the App Store. It has multi-language support. Currently, Viber is only available on the iOS and Android platforms.
The best thing about the app is that it integrates with your OS perfectly. It supports multitasking as well, and we’ll get to those features in a bit.
Once installed, the app asks for your location and phone number. It then sends you an activation code via SMS (works worldwide, provided you entered a legit phone number) which you have to enter on the next page. After this, the app asks for permission to access your phonebook. Allow it to do so. Upon initialization, you’ll be taken straight to its contacts tab, where you’re in for a nice surprise.
Viber works in a way that’s different from all other such VoIP apps. With Viber, usernames and passwords are a thing of the past! Viber uses your phone number as your username, freeing you off making user IDs, remembering passwords and logging in every time you want to use the app. It’s such a wonderfully simple concept! And that’s just the beginning. Once Viber accesses your phonebook, it scans it for cellphone numbers and matches them with its own database to provide you with a list of people, from your very own phonebook, using Viber. I mean how neat is that!
What you end up with then, is a separate list of all your contacts using Viber. You can send them a text message for free, or call them up for free of course, using the app.
Like I mentioned before, the integration with your OS is seamless. The calling method and appearance on the iPhone is exactly the same as it is when you use the native iPhone ‘Phone’ app. The only difference being that Viber uses its purple theme for everything. Ditto for texting, the interface looks EXACTLY like a purple-version of the iPhone’s native Messaging app, uses the same display to show conversation and to write a new text, and even has the same conversation window. Each text message that you send out comes with a delivery status as well. There’s also the option to attach an image from the iPhone’s library with your text message.
The calling also works pretty much the same way, you tap on a contact from your ‘Viber’ list. From there you can make a free call to him or her using Viber, send a free text message, or even call them using GSM from here.
The app’s interface is brilliant, and uses the same tabular look that comes with almost all iPhone apps. The tab bar on the bottom has tabs for messages, recent calls, contact, the keypad and a button for accessing more options.
When you receive a call or a text, Viber alerts you in pretty much the exact same way that the iPhone Phone and Messages app alerts you. For messages, a window pops-up (or you get a notification in the notification bar if you’re on iOS5), and for a call, the phone rings and the purple background of the display lets you know that you’re being called over Viber. The app also has the ability to send you push notifications for when one of your contacts starts using Viber.
I’ve been using Viber since a while now, and I’ve got to say, the sound quality has always been top-notch, even though I get the worst speeds on EDGE, thanks to my service provider. It’s quite frankly, amazing how Viber is able to keep the quality good despite the slow speed.
Like mentioned above, it runs in the background on your multitasking-enabled phone, so it works as sort of an alternative to your actual phone, only it’s free! ‘Free’ however often means ads, you might be pleased to know that I couldn’t find a single ad of any kind in the app. The only downside is that there’s no video option with this app. And while it might not be always useful, it doesn’t hurt having the security of putting the iPhone 4’s front-facing camera to use and switching to video-chat mode. I do hope they add this feature in the upcoming iterations.
This has to be, hands-down, one of the ‘must-have’ apps out there. It’s all totally one-hundred percent free: the app itself costs nothing, calling costs nothing and text messaging costs nothing. It does however use your data, so keep a watch out if you’re using it on EDGE or 3G. Works all over the globe, with anyone from anywhere in the world! You can use Viber to keep in touch with friends, or make free international calls and/or text messages using this. Get it here for free, right now!
What do you like about Viber? Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: this review is based on the reviewers experience with this app on the iPhone 4, with iOS 5.0.1.