Viber has recently launched version 3.0 of its Android and iOS applications, promising a fresh user experience on Android and a new desktop client for cross-device messaging, calling and even video calls.
Viber today launched its latest release, which promises an overhauled experience for Android users. In an interview with Android Authority, Viber CEO Talmon Marco said the Android app has been reworked from ground up to conform to user interface standards set for the platform.
“We started development on Viber in 2010. At that time, there were no design guidelines for Android,” Marco said, stressing that the Android interface until now closely echoed Viber for the iPhone. However “what’s good for back then is no longer good now.” As such, the team has revamped the user experience and “completely renovated Viber on Android. It’s a brand new app, and it’s something we consider to be beautiful, amazing, gorgeous.”
The 3.0 update also resolves the security vulnerability reported late last month. While that vulnerability has already been patched, this update ensures that the flaw — which lets a third party access your device by sending a certain combination of messages — is no longer a problem.
The key update for this release is the launch of a new desktop application for Windows and OS X. With the new application, Viber promises a seamless messaging and calling experience across smartphones and desktop or notebook computers. Marco highlights how a user can seamlessly switch from one’s smartphone to the desktop with the tap of a “call transfer” button, and vice versa. The call does not get cut off.
In a similar vein, messaging is also smart and seamless. At the first instance, Viber rings all of your devices. But once you start chatting on one device, the others will be muted, so you don’t get incessant alerts on all devices.
Additionally, messages are synced across devices, which gives several benefits. First, whichever message or thread you delete on one device will also be deleted on others, thereby reducing redundancy and the need to do maintenance on several devices (Marco says Viber supports up to 50 desktop clients). Secondly, messages you read on one device will not remain unread on another device, which is usually a big gripe for users who have their IM and VoIP client on different devices.
Apart from the new client launch, Viber has reworked its VoIP engine for better-quality voice calls. Marco shared that Viber calls work well even with speeds as low as 8 Kbps — yes, that’s Kilobits per second. And as you go higher in speed, the voice quality improves even further. Voice calls also work seamlessly while switching from one type of connection to another. As such, Viber calls can hop from cellular to WiFi connectivity without skipping a beat. As a Viber review puts it, simplicity and straightforwardness are among the main benefits of Viber, as compared to competitors like Skype or Fring.
An added benefit of the desktop client is video calling, with Viber now supporting video calls across Windows and OS X clients. A client for Linux is also in the works. Video calling is not yet supported for the mobile client, but the team is working on adding this functionality.
But even with the launch of a desktop client, Marco says Viber remains mobile-centric. In fact, you can only sign up with the service from a smartphone. This ensures that you already have a populated contact list, which consists of other users in your phonebook who are already on Viber. In contrast, other VoIP clients let you start out with an empty contact list that you have to manually populate. Once you have an account set from your mobile device and number, you can then sign in from the desktop client.
Viber is a free download from Google Play and the iTunes App Store. The desktop client can be downloaded from Viber’s website: Viber for Mac and Viber for Windows. If you’re worried you won’t have anyone to talk to, consider that Viber has already grown to 200 million users — up from the 140 million the service had as of end 2012. Viber is reportedly growing 400,000 users per day, and the introduction of video calling and desktop apps is likely to help increase the app’s popularity even further.