Research in Motion (RIM) has added a free voice calling feature to its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service, just days after Microsoft released a beta version of Skype for Windows Phone 8 (WP8).
The BlackBerry Voice service is part of RIM's wider BBM 7 update and promises to let users make voice calls to other BBM users on any BlackBerry device connected to a Wi-Fi network.
The feature will lets BBM users instantly switch between text and chat messaging when logged into the service, RIM claimed.
RIM also confirmed BBM 7 will have a split-screen feature that allows users to talk and text while chatting using a headset or in-built microphone.
BlackBerry Voice also reportedly allows users to check their email, or navigate to other apps while talking.
The beta version of BBM 7 and its Voice service are currently available as a download on the BlackBerry Beta zone.
The service is compatible BlackBerry devices running BlackBerry OS 6 or higher, though RIM has announced plans to extend the service to BB OS 5 in the near future.
The service comes just after Microsoft released the Beta version of its Skype for Windows Phone 8 service. The service will be in direct competition with BBM since Microsoft added its new Lync-to-Skype service.
Lync-to-Skype lets users sign into Skype using their Microsoft account, thus letting them use their Lync account for both work and personal messaging purposes.
The feature was listed by Microsoft as one of many key additions to the OS, designed to make Windows Phone 8 ideal for firms embracing a bring your own device strategy.
The inclusion of the feature is symptomatic of a larger move by Microsoft to wrestle the corporate market from RIM.
As well as Microsoft Windows Phone device maker Nokia has also announced plans to increase its market share by targeting the corporate with Windows Phone 8.
For a complete look at Windows Phone 8 and its business perks check out V3's top 10 breakdown.
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