When we first covered Viber for Windows Phone a year ago, the app was quite disappointing. For some reason, the team behind the famous messenger didn’t add VoIP calling options to the WP7 client, and even when the calling capabilities did come, they were limited to Nokia devices. On Android and iOS, Viber is used almost exclusively for its free calls, since a lot of other text messengers (like WhatsApp) are already more popular. So, it is nice to see that after a considerable wait, Viber has properly arrived on Windows Phone. The app’s WP8 version has just been updated with several new features, and the most important among them are voice calls (that too in HD quality). Apart from free VoIP calling, the update makes better use of the WP8 Start screen by letting users pin individual conversations as live tiles.
To initiate a call with a Viber contact, just navigate to their profile in the ‘contacts’ section of the app. You can place a free call if the contact is on Viber, but the option to use your carrier to make a call is provided as well (of course, usual charges apply in this case).
You can also call contacts directly from the contacts list using the small phone icon next to each name, or from within a messaging thread using the call button that’s been added to the bottom bar. Calls can be switched to your mobile network mid-conversation, or you can start using your device’s speaker to talk hands-free. The voice quality seemed great in our experience, even without the use of earphones.
Another new option in messaging threads is ‘pin to start’. Using this feature, individual chats can be pinned to the Start screen. Previously, it was only possible to pin the whole app as a live tile, but now, you can view alerts for incoming messages from each of your favorite contacts just by glancing at their live tiles.
Since WP8 has made it a lot easier for apps to show lock screen notifications, many apps have been updated with support for that. Viber too can now display a notification badge on the lock screen.
Other changes include the option to add up to 40 people in group conversations, and a more easily accessible location sharing option.
As always, Viber is free to download. Once again, this update has only been rolled out for Windows Phone 8 devices.