03 DEC

Viber Brings Free VOIP Calls to iPhone

by Marianne Schultz
 

While there is no dearth of apps offering free phone calls in the App Store, most require you to jump few a through hoops to use them. CallCoin (which we found didn’t work well at all) requires users to play online games or participate in (sketchy) online offers to earn virtual coins to make calls. The ever-popular Skype app as well as netTalk, which we tried out, both require you to create an account before you can make any calls. Enter Viber, a new app by a start-up company of the same name, that doesn’t require anything more complicated than your phone number to get started.

Viber debuted in the App Store yesterday and offers free VOIP calls to other Viber users anywhere in the world over Wi-Fi or 3G. When you first open the app, you’re asked to enter your iPhone’s number. After this you’ll receive an SMS with verification code, which you’ll need to enter on the next screen to confirm that the number entered belongs to you. After that, Viber will ask for access to your contacts to identify other Viber users, and that’s it – you can start making calls right away. There’s no need to create a user name or password or anything else.

If you call someone who is not a Viber user, the app will switch you over to the Phone app to complete your call, which will use your cellular plan accordingly. Other Viber users are marked in the app’s contacts list so you can easily find people you already know who have the app.

Viber uses push notifications to ring and present a message to let you know about incoming calls. You’ll also see a push notification message, minus any audio, to let you know of missed calls. Unlike the Skype app, Viber doesn’t need to be running in the background for you to receive an incoming call, which can be much easier on your iPhone’s battery life.

We tried Viber out briefly and found a couple of oddities, though. The biggest one is what happens when you call another Viber user who doesn’t answer – you’ll hear it ring repeatedly and then the call will disconnect abruptly. While we wouldn’t expect a free service like this to offer a voicemail box, a brief message like “The person you’re trying to reach is unavailable – please try again later” would be nice.

The second isn’t really an issue at all but may just be a bit strange to U.S. users – the outgoing ring tone you hear when calling another Viber user sounds like the single-tone sound we’ve heard in western Europe, not the varying ring sound heard when using AT&T or other U.S. land line or cellular providers.

Call quality ranged from excellent to average, sounding exceptional at some points during our test call to a bit choppy at other times. However, we’ve heard worse using AT&T’s network, so this could still be an improvement depending on the quality of the coverage in your area.

Of course, the key to Viber becoming really useful to you is widespread use of the app among your friends and family. If you’re already on a cellular plan that allows you free calls to other mobile phones on the same network (as AT&T does) or to a short list of numbers you select, Viber may not be of much use to you particularly if most of the people you call don’t have an iPhone to begin with (Viber says that Android and Blackberry versions of the app are coming soon).

All in all, we are happy to see Viber come to the app store to bring some competition to AT&T when it comes to call quality and reliability, though the app does need to hit some critical mass among the millions of iPhone users out there to be as useful as it has the potential to be.

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38 Comments

  1. Rick

    Aren’t all iPhone to iPhone calls already free anyway since they’re all on AT&T (at least in the US)? Not sure what the purpose is if it’s just for iPhones. Maybe it’ll make more sense when they come out with an Android and Blackberry app.

  2. digitaltrix

    Re:Rick
    I’m assuming you aren’t as naive to think the only iPhones available in this world are on AT&T. There are a ton of networks worldwide offering the iPhone as well as the obvious plethora of unlocked (JB) iPhones on every GSM network…

  3. Brian

    Rick,
    As digitaltrix has mentioned the iPhone is actually sold overseas so not everyone uses AT&T. It is also excellent if you have friends outside your country as the phone calls are free.

  4. Haruhiko

    Tango is surely better than this app. It also makes video call.

  5. momo

    why i have to enter my credit card detail when they are a free app, not like the the free game without entering credit card details?

  6. Viber Media

    We are working on streamlining the dialing process – what you hear and when. The current solution is “ok” in our opinion, but can be much better. As for the outgoing ringtone, we’re still debating on this one. Our usersbase is global and each country has its own ring. There is a fair chance that we will going with a varying ring in one of the upcoming releases.

    As for the uasbility of this to AT&T users. When Viber offers Android support, you will be able to call the other operators as well. We are more concerned about AT&T’s network and its ability to carry VoIP traffic in markets like New York and San Francisco.

    Obviously you need a lot of people in order to use Viber effectively, but fortunately VIber is gaining a lot of users, as it is the #1 App in many (maybe most by now) AppStores. We’re already clocking several million minutes a day.

    This link is outdated now (check again tomorrow) but should give you a feel for Viber’s popularity:

    http://www.appannie.com/viber-free-phone-calls/ranking/

  7. Tong

    Why i cannot recieve the verification code?~ for more than 10 times.

  8. Todd

    What a lot of U.S. users are forgetting is that in many places, You can get a much better wifi signal than AT&T signal.

  9. Hmm

    And why do I want this app again?? I use Skype for Skype to Skype calling over wifi. Now, if you offered me really really cheap LD rates over wifi then I would jump on this.

  10. Viber Media

    Tong – please check out our forum post regarding your problem: http://support.viber.com/entries/345272-what-should-i-do-if-i-don-t-receive-the-access-code

    Hmm – Viber DOES offer you FREE long-distance calls (and soon – text messages as well). For now, it is only for iPhone users, but as mentioned above, we are working on Android and Blackberry support, which will allow you to call more of your friends for for, no matter where they are (even internationally).

  11. SE lau

    For those who do not have an iPhone, check out a demo of Viber online here: http://bit.ly/ViberDemo

    Click on the boxes to play with the application.

  12. Rinat

    I am facing a problem with my Viber app. on the iphone, it is not giving any sign /message/ring but only signs the in – calls as missed calls what can I do?

  13. Nikki

    As with Rinat my phone does not ring when I have an incoming Viber call, but it gives me a message to say i missed the call, is there anything i need to setup and how?
    In response to previous messages, iphone users all over the world would love free calls and don’t have the benefit of AT&T. For me phoning Uk to SA works better this way as the SA infrastructure for home broadband isn’t as good as it is here and very expensive, so this is a cheaper way than phoning their landlines through something like skype.

  14. Davem3

    I’m facing the same problem as Rinant and Nikki: The phone is not ringing with Viber. Any solutions/suggestions yet?

  15. Otis Davis

    I’m having the same problem on both my iPhones. The viber calls are not ringing but u get a push notification after you’ve missed the call

  16. Henri

    Same problem, Viber calls are not ringing.

  17. matt

    So, where is the guy with the “Viber” when you need him? It seems like I’m one of the many people whose phone won’t ring (actually do nothing at all) when receiving calls.
    Also when connecting through Viber is not available for whatever reason Viber calls the other party through your regular line. And guess what. All of a sudden you’re being charged for the call without even knowing. Sneaky. BEWARE!

  18. Jamo

    Same problem as those users above. No ringtone and apparently no answers to be found anywhere that I could find. The app needs proper controls in order to be a game changer.
    Like asking before calling over regular network when Viber call fails and the ability to choose to use on wifi only. If the idea is to save money by conveinient use of VoIP then why not make it much more user pocket/friendly.

  19. Viber

    Hi again everyone,
    I apologize for the (very) late response.

    Since your posts are quite old, I can understand by now that the non-ringing calls issue has been sorted.

    If not – please let me know and we will guide you through a solution.

    Regards,
    Viber.

  20. Pete

    Hello,

    I’m having same problem also. No ringing and then only missed call msg on the screen. Tried to install viber again but no help.

  21. Viber

    @Pete

    The cause of the problem might be the fact that your iPhone is unlocked or jailbroken, and that interferes with Push Notifications in your iPhone. We’ve heard that some of our users fixed this problem using something called “Push Doctor”, but this is *NOT* an official solution from Viber Media.

  22. Karin

    I have found this to be wonderful when traveling internationally. I called AT&T prior to a trip to Germany to find out about getting an international calling plan. Based on their pricing I figured I’d come home to a $1000 phone bill. The per minute calling plan and per text pricing was outrageous. Enter Viber! I can call back to the US and text people for free as long as I have a Wifi signal. Great for use when I’m in the hotel or anywhere else with free Wifi. I put my iPhone in airplane mode and that way I don’t receive calls at the AT&T rate of 39 cents/minute. Everyone who knew I was going on vacation was told to get Viber if they wanted to contact me. The sound quality is just fine, no problems at all.

  23. Chris

    My iPhone does not ring when I get a viber call. Thre is a notification that I have missed a call. All my notifications are on. How do I fix the problem?

  24. adnan

    Iphone users is having the same common problem, that viber dont let you know that someone is calling but this is a common problem with iphone 3g or may be in 4 also. it works fine on Android, but it will be good if viber team can solve this problem.

  25. Jackie

    When I press answer to receive a call, I cannot hear the caller & at their end it says call failed.
    If I ring them, it just rings out all the time. Text messages are fine
    Is there something else I should be pressing

  26. Francois

    Hi all… I’m having the same problem. Somebody calls me and my phone is not ringing or vibrating, so it is pretty difficult to answer on time. Hope you guys have an answer for this.

    Thanks.

  27. Leanne

    There Never Any Alert To A Call Or Txt Through Viber Unless You Open It And Then Theres Missed Calls And Txt Because Theres No Way Of Knowing When Someones Calling You.. I Dont Even Get Notifications.. (My Settings Are Correct)

    Fix It Please :)

  28. Mel

    Hi i have installed the app and all push notifications are on but there is no ring tone when I have a call come through. I get text alerts but no ringtone when someone is calling. Can you let me know how to rectify this? Thanks

  29. Amy

    Viber Team or anyone,
    My iPhone 5 does not ring on incoming viber calls, I only get a message that there is an incoming. My previous phone (iPhone 4) worked fine.I have the same settings.
    Any solutions would be great.

  30. Amy

    incoming viber calls does not ring problem solved!!!!!
    go to settings
    go to notifications
    scroll down to viber
    make sure soundis on.
    When I first set up viber it was working fine, don’t know how the sound got turned off. Didn’t think of checking there as in my original set up was on.

  31. Edgar S. Galea

    I have the same problem: when someone calls me, my Samsung S I9000 does not ring; I find that I had a missed call. All my settings are in order.

  32. Bev

    I am having the same problem as many other people above. My daughter is overseas and when I ring her on Viber her phone actually rings so she is alerted to answer it – no problems there. However, when she phones me I am missing her calls as there is no ring sounds to alert me to her calls. I have checked and rechecked all my settings and everything appears to be correct. Can someone please help me with this. I have a brand new iPhone 4s, my daughter also has the 4s.

  33. Fatima

    My viber calls do no ring, i do not get a ringtone, just get a missed call alert. I am using Nokia Lumia 620 (windows 8 phone). Please help me out

  34. Sandy

    Amy on June 1st comment solved my problem of my iPhone not ringing when I receive Viber calls. Thanks so much.

  35. Ana

    My Samsung does not ring on incoming viber calls, I only get a message that there is an incoming. Any solutions would be great.Thanks

  36. Mandip

    Guys,this is happenning with some new updates that we made for version 4.1.1 on our smart phones. It was working fine on series 3 versions.
    However a simple fix is to leave the app running in the background or what we also call as minimized.Only then it will allow us to receive calls on our Phones or atleast Iphone.

  37. Nexusscars

    Problem of not ringing at receiver end still unsolved. Hmmmm

  38. Russell27

    Have tried everything I can to get Viber to produce sound for incoming calls in iPhone 5. Nothing works.

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