The list of communication apps seems to grow endlessly: In addition to good, old-fashioned email, we can use instant messaging, Skype, Kik,WhatsApp, Facebook, Line, Tango, and many, many more apps and services to interact with our loved ones and colleagues. The twist to Viber (free) is that it combines text messaging with voice calling to other Viber users—in a subset of Skype, since it lacks the bigger service’s video calling. It also has the nifty capability to instantly transferring calls among your devices. Viber features a fun texting interface, and since it uses data and not SMS and works on just about every mobile OS (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Windows, Mac, Symbian, Nokia S40 and Bada) it’s sort of an answer to Apple’s iMessage for those without iPhones. The app offers a well-designed and economical way to send text messages and place VoIP calls. Installing I tested the app on a Nokia Lumia 1020$49.00 at Microsoft Store, yes, the one with the remarkable 41-megapixel camera, and a solid phone besides. As with all Windows Phone apps, you get Viber from the Windows Phone Apps+Games store. A slight 12MB app, Viber starts you off by asking for your phone number, to which it sends a four-digit confirmation text message for verification. After entering this, the setup process asks for your full name and gives you the opportunity to add a profile photo; alternatively you could have these filled in by connecting your Facebook account. There are two concerns with services like WhatsApp and Viber, which require your actual phone number: You’re giving out a private personal detail that links to your financial, personal, and contact data to a startup tech company, and any contacts can see your real number. It also means you’ll have to create a new Viber account if you get a new phone number. With Kik, Skype, or Facebook Messenger, you simply use your account username, avoiding those pitfalls. On the plus side, the real phone-number approach does ease account setup, and it means the app can find contacts on the phone. But Skype and the other mobile communication apps I’ve used can also find your local phone’s contacts, so that’s not much of a differentiator. Interface Viber for Windows Phone makes good use of the operating system’s unique interface capabilities: Its live tile support lets you pin conversations to your start screen, and you swipe sideways to move through call history, conversations, and contacts. There are 11 background choices, some more goofy than others; the default is beige with flocks of birds and an owl showing up on some pages. The live tile merely shows the number of missed messages, rather than who it’s from or the text of the message, as other apps’ live tiles do. Viber-ing The main activity in Viber is text messaging, and you can not only send text, but also photos, your location, smilies, and stickers. Unlike the iPhone version of the app, though, the Windows Phone Viber doesn’t let you send videos or on-the-fly drawings. Nor does it have the iPhone version’s press-to-talk, walkie-talkie-like feature. I find Viber’s stickers more childish and less artistic and cute than the Facebook Messenger stickers, and though you can buy more on other platforms in in-app purchases, the Windows Phone app doesn’t support this.
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