(Pocket-lint) - RIM has issued an update to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) that opens up the ability to make free voice calls to other BlackBerry users over Wi-Fi. Think Apple's FaceTime without the "Face".

Called BBM Voice, the new part of the messenger service allows users to either call a fellow BlackBerry owner directly or instantly switch from text to talk and back again, if they so desire. There's also a split-screen feature so that users can talk and text at the same time.

BBM Voice works in the background so you can talk while checking emails, other text conversations or even navigate to other apps. And it's compatible with BlackBerry accessories, such as a Bluetooth headset or wired headphones. The speakerphone function can also be used.

Another new feature to arrive with BBM 7 revolves around its integration with a user's BlackBerry ID. It now backs up your BMM profile, groups and contacts so that you can switch to another phone but retain your BBM settings. BlackBerry 10 anybody?

BBM 7 is now available in Beta for BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry 6 OS or higher. BlackBerry 5 OS support will follow. It can be downloaded from the BlackBerry Beta Zone for free at www.BlackBerry.com/betazone.

Pic: Professor Green on his BlackBerry (cc) Blackberry

Writing by Rik Henderson.