BlackBerry smartphone manufacturer Research In Motion have announced a new feature for their BlackBerry Messenger platform called BBM Voice – which, according to their press release, will allow BBM users to make free voice calls to BBM customers all over the world over a Wi-Fi connection. The feature is available in the free BBM 7 update.

“BBM is the quick, easy way to stay connected to the people that matter to you, and with today’s announcement we’re expanding the capabilities of the service for deeper social engagement and even greater collaboration, beginning with voice functionality,” said T.A. McCann, Vice President of BBM and Social Communities at RIM.

“The new BBM Voice feature is for when you’re travelling and you want to call home without worrying about phone charges,” he continued. “It’s for when you have news you can’t wait to share, for quickly explaining complicated details, and collaborating with colleagues. Whenever your ideas are too big for text, there’s BBM Voice.”

The new version of the software also has “a split-screen feature” whereby users can talk and text at the same time. The announcement says “for example, [users] can send a picture to their contact while talking to them” and “they can also check other BBM text chats, check email, or navigate to other apps while engaged on a BBM Voice call”.

BBM 7 is currently in beta, which means it’s only available to users signed up for the free BlackBerry Beta Zone service, but it’s slated for release very shortly. It’s currently compatible with phones running BlackBerry OS 6 and higher, while support for BlackBerry OS 5 phones (like the Curve 8520) is on the way. Find out more here.