13
Feb
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Say what you will about BlackBerry's viability as a company, but the Canadian smartphone firm's messaging app is quickly shaping up into a powerful client. Today, BB announced that BBM 2.0 for Android is out now, and it adds a whole lotta stuff to the app's growing feature resume.

Of most interest to users is probably BBM Voice, which is exactly what it sounds like - you can now call BBM contacts directly from the app (still no video chat, though). This isn't a VoIP technology, though, so you can only call other BBM users. Still, a nifty way to save minutes if you've got friends you talk to regularly on BBM, particularly those in foreign lands.

BBM Channels is the other banner feature of the new update, which kind of vaguely sounds like a sort of community feature. You can "join conversations happening now with BBM users, brands, businesses, communities and more." The way BlackBerry describes it in the press release, Channels are basically permanent conversations that have "owners" - the owner of the channel can choose who gets to post to the channel, what hours posting is allowed, and moderate most aspects of the conversation. There's even analytics. Subscribers to channels don't have to share any personal info with the channel, either, so everything can be anonymous. BlackBerry's use cases are for brands and businesses communicating with customers. It all kind of sounds like they're trying to turn BBM into a sort of quasi-social network, which I guess is fine.

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Sharing features also received a big boost, you can now add photos, voice notes, and directly attach files to BBM chats, and the app includes native Dropbox support. Neat. Location sharing been added as well, and is powered by Glympse. Finally, there are over 100 new emoticons, and BBM Groups now support up to 50 people, making it a pretty legit communication tool for small businesses or other groups.

Of course, the fact that BBM is a totally closed system that doesn't integrate with SMS/MMS or VoIP functionality still makes it a less than ideal choice for many, but hey, it's an option, and it's racked up over 10,000,000 downloads on Google Play to date. It could be worth checking out if some of these new features really strike your fancy. Hit up the link to press release below, it has even more info about the new version of the app.

Press release

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Is BlackBerry even aware that there are other countries beyond USA's borders?

    Region-lock for messenger is just dumb

    • Kenneth

      Pretty sure it's available outside of US as well, just not in your country maybe?

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        IDK, it was never available in Russia so I didn't even bother with installing the app

        • Sikollo

          Maybe you're not allowed to access Blackberry server from Russia so it's no use installing the app.

          To be sure you can try sideloading BBM apk, and try to connect.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Side loading works fine, and I can register and login just fine, but it's the fact that it's not available in Russia even when the description is translated is simply stupid

          • Kenneth

            Pretty sure the translation is automated.....I guess BB hates Russia. :D

      • Jose Arce

        It's available here in Mexico, we're not part of the US... yet

        • wicasa

          please take back texas, and while you're at it, alabama, arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and a couple of more too ;) pleeeeease :D

  • CuriousCursor

    > Of course, the fact that BBM is a totally closed system that doesn't integrate with SMS/MMS

    Wtf, most messaging systems are closed. FB, Kik, MessageMe, Meow, Whatsapp, Snapchat, need I say more?

    • AdoreAmaryllis

      Because they are not a SMS/MMS application. There is a different market for that and FB messenger has allowed that(sms/mms) and Hangouts(sms/mms) does that now as well. Snapchat is not meant for normal text messaging anyway and Meow is for international ways to make friends so why will SMS/MMS be involved with your personal phone number? There is a different market for each of this style of messaging but the closest think to BBM you should have said are: Whatsapp, Telegram, Kik(noted you mention) etc.. I have my sms and mms on my phone and dont need a app for that and it wont kill my using my little muscle finger to check that bubble for my messenger so stating this fact was for what purpose when there are different markets to use communication in different ways? Also not everyone likes their messenger and sms/mms together anyways I don't think it will kill them for it hasn't with all the other messengers without that feature.

      • CuriousCursor

        I know. I'm just pointing out that the writer took the pain to point out that artificial flaw.

    • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

      Facebook allows XMPP (providing you never change your username, at which point it breaks and never connects again EVER), has integration with Skype and Windows 8. It's not as closed as some systems, (It still sucks though)

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      • CuriousCursor

        FB has integration with Skype on the phone?

  • Leighton Rathbone

    Does it let you type in landscape yet? And drain the battery less?

  • naturalblue

    about the fact that this app still lacks push notifications and uses some crappy keep-alive method instead of gcm..."reliability" of notifications with this method is hit or miss really.

    • Andrés

      I actually liked the app for some time but this made me uninstall it. Messages would not arrive after HOURS, rendering the app completely useless. If they change that I might use it again.

      • Virrto

        Exactly.
        With other messaging app, I don't have to be always online. I get instant notification when I'm back online.

        With BBM, I had to keep it online, draining battery life. What a waste of resource.

      • naturalblue

        this is exactly why i'm finding it hard to get friends to use this messenger again. i tell them to try it, we get into a convo, messages get delayed and they just go back to messaging me on the other messengers because they at least know i'm being notified.

    • wicasa

      just installed and tried it with the GF who is in Canada. the one time that it connected, voice quality was OK (a lot of echoing though, A LOT). but after that it won't even ring; both ways. yeah, gcm is their problem.

      • Cerberus_tm

        How was the latency? Was the lag the same as Skype? I haven't tried it yet.

    • abobobilly

      Horrible UI , in addition.

      • naturalblue

        yeah, not a fan of the bulky looking ui at all.

  • Tim

    Thank you so much blackberry team. I was waiting for this update. Its really great user friendly and smooth. :-)

    • Carla John

      but that app is several sorts of terrible.

      • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

        Shut the fuck up and suck my dick. Part time or full time!

        • abobobilly

          Part time or full time. HA. Nice Touch Siree

    • Cerberus_tm

      Have you tried the voice calls yet? Is the quality higher than with Skype? And the latency? The reason I don't use Skype is that the quality is a lot worse than regular phone calls, and especially the latency: it takes a second or so for the sounds to come through, which is really annoying, even when you're talking to a neighbour over Wifi on both sides. Regular phone calls don't have this latency. I have heard good things about BBM and was hoping it might not have this latency.

      Update: Oh fuuu...I totally missed your reference to the fake reviews Blackberry used to post for itself. Thank you so much for leading me on, Team Tim!! Good one.

  • Noggieca

    Can't install on i717 Note. WHY? can someone link the apk please.

  • César Augusto Ramírez Franco

    I will say it again, who needs this when there's Hangouts?

    • AdoreAmaryllis

      Not a lot of people want to make google plus accounts. Also to get the real 100% experience from it Google plus is a plus. VoiP as well has scored with BBM as well with more variety of sending files through messenger.

  • Paul_Werner

    Your move Hangouts

    • http://papped.webatu.com papped

      Hangouts keeps getting worse...

    • Jamie

      Hangouts Audio Please!

    • abobobilly

      About time i'd say. Not only they need to improve/update/redesign its UI (that stupid "slide to archive" feature) but also introduce some features. We can't really share anything beside some forever-alone pics of ourselves.

      • Paul_Werner

        You can share video too in Hangouts but only over MMS, not pure IM chat

        • abobobilly

          Well thats what i meant. If its meant to replace GTalk, its supposed to be better. I get it though, that features addition can be a slow and painful (for users) process, but its taking Google hell of a lot of time to do that recently.

  • Christopher Bement

    Stop trying to make Blackberry happen. It's not going to happen!

    • AdoreAmaryllis

      downloads says otherwise and account signups. Also the boost in sales of phone has shift and this will not be the first time for Blackberry to make a comeback. It's been done before and it's toughest challenger in my opinion was Sidekicks(aim features) when it came back hard from that around the time Curves was popular.

      • solaris

        You should see from actual BBM usage, not from download counts or account signup.
        How we know user didn't uninstall BBM after signup ?

        Not to mention those synthetic review like "great user friendly and smooth." , I really doubt their playstore statistic is anywhere can be trust.

  • miri

    I'm sure the service is fine, but that app is several sorts of terrible.

  • Martin

    So what's better in BBM than viber or whatsapp, hangouts? Maybe if you have friends with BB, but for me it's pointless, even if it looks great and does a great job.. I need to ask all my friends to install it... But all of them at least have Viber.. They need to make something really cool to get back in the race :-)

    • AdoreAmaryllis

      Whatsapp you have to pay even if crap cheap you still have to pay which nowadays people love the word free... well they always have lol. Telegram is riding up whatsapp because it offers the same thing as whatsapp but you dont have to pay and you get to send bigger files over messenger.

      Hangouts you get it's full usage with a fellow android user/ if sign up with google plus. No voip but you have video calling.

      Viber is good for people who don't have unlimited text or minutes but still hasn't caught on fire with the big hitters in accounts and signups.

      I think BBM is lighting this match and all they need to do is advertise the crap out of it! :)

      • Martin

        I am using Whatsapp for 3 year maybe and I never payed? What you need to pay for? :-)

        • naturalblue

          you're supposed to pay $0.99/year. i've noticed some people get extensions on the subscription for whatever reason, but i also know people who have had to pay the fee when their subscription ran out.

  • AdoreAmaryllis

    Android Police you should make a official certified channel for BBM. That will be cool.

  • Jamie

    Next stage after Hangouts adding Audio/Voice for all someday for the end users benefit would be Inter Contact/Messaging Hubs and joint Interoperability service agreements. A few mergers will not go amiss as too many services exist so would be ideal as well.

    Apple needs to bring iMessage and Facetime under one brand (everyone else basically are). 'Facetime' name seems to have a following, was video and already has Facetime Audio so iMessage could rebrand as Facetime Messenger.

    Passbook and Facetime are Apple biggest iOS exclusives that not iBranded and the lack of the iBranding do at least give possibility of 'perhaps one day' both products opening up if Apple ever do a BBM (Closed System to Multi Platform) as both have either promised initially to be open or have a open to Developers so have brought to multi platform unofficially i.e. PassWallet.

  • Dhruv Aggarwal

    Still doesnt support nexus 5..

    • http://blog.tonysarju.com/ Infowerx Solutions

      lolwut? Of course it does.

  • MC Wong

    Not too many ways to play this game. Social networks implements IM and games (Facebook), IMs throws in games, social networking, stickers, themes, etc (Line, wechat, kakaotalk). Theyre all too confusing and at least bbm provides simple and easy to use add-ins. It's primarily an iM app with text and voice but added channels. Wechat has moments somewhat similar to Facebook but no voice chat. Line and kakaotalk are confusing and cluttered with all those fancy addins. Whatsapp is text only (with voice MSG) so bbm is right in the middle - simple & direct, no hassles. Channels taps nicely into the app. Only drawback is heavy on ram resource which it can optimize with an upgrade later. Bbm has caught up with viber and exceeded whatsapp in features but still FREE. With the introduction of Find Friends, it's as good if not better than the rest.

  • Henry Carruthers

    What makes the writer think it is NOT VoIP? It works over TCP/IP and it is voice !

  • abobobilly

    Thumbs up to those (like me) who never opened the app after installing and testing it the first time. -__-

  • Abuzar Zaman

    SUBSCRIBE TO MY PAGE! "AbuzarZaman@Zadens"

  • Abuzar Zaman

    its much appreciated all!

  • Ashish

    BBM is here to Stay ! Booyah http://www.droidbug.tk

  • faryal

    How to block calls on bbm for android? If someome is your contact and you just want to block their calls how do you do that?

  • faryal

    How do we blaock incoming voice call from a contact. Like let the person be a contact n just not allow him or her to call