Viber is one of the many apps trying to supplant traditional phone calls and texts. But to achieve that dream, the service can't stop with connecting you to friends and family. You need to get in touch with stores and other businesses too. That's why the latest Viber update introduces public accounts.

When a brand sets up a public account in Viber, they give you a way to reach them without looking for a phone number. Instead you tap an icon or simply shoot over a text. It's an approach to customer service that many consider more appealing than waiting on hold. We've seen similar efforts elsewhere in the industry, such as Facebook's fan pages and Messenger's bots.

Search for businesses by tapping the Public icon in the main menu. The button appears as long as you're running version 6.5 or above.

What's New:

•NEW FEATURE: Chat with your favorite brands, businesses and personalities on Public Accounts. Follow them for news and updates; subscribe to get direct messages
•Send photos, videos and voice messages with a tap through the new media menu.

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