While BlackBerry is rumoured to be pursuing a sale — to be wrapped up as quickly as November — and preparing another round of layoffs, the embattled Canadian titan is still releasing devices and plowing ahead with plans to roll out BBM to the iPhone and Android platforms. The once exclusively BlackBerry-only club will open its doors on 21 September and there is no cover charge — BBM will be available as a free download in Google Play and the App Store.
Why would you leave the comfort of iOS 7’s swanky new messages app or your swiss-army knife of cross-platform chat apps, WhatsApp, for BBM? Well, despite the noise about its parent company’s struggles, BBM is a pretty unique network. BBM conversations run on a type of enclave on the net and it uses a PIN so you don’t have to give anyone your phone number or email address.
The traditional file sharing features are there for photos and voice notes, but there are other things like BBM Groups that lets you invite up to 30 friends to chat together, and goes a step further than multi-chat by allowing you to share photos and schedules. And, with Broadcast Message, you can send a message out to all your BBM contacts at once.
BBM has always been considered more of a social network than a run of the mill chat app. It lets you post a personal message, profile picture and your current status, and lets your contacts know via updates.
BBM will be available as a free download for Android smartphones running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean (Android 4.x) beginning at 7AM EDT on 21 September.
BBM for iPhones running iOS 6 and iOS 7 will become available for each market on the App Store schedule of 12:01 AM local time on September 22.
Later this year, BBM will be updated with “Channels”. A channel is a type of mini social network or forum where you can engage with your friends or other communities about the things you’re passionate about. Subscribing to a Channel will let you join conversations with people who share your interests.
BBM Video calling and BBM Voice calling remain a BlackBerry-exclusive features for now, but are planned for availability for Android and iPhone at some point.