Yesterday BlackBerry began the rollout of its BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) service for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android phones. For several years I have used BlackBerry Messenger for fast, efficient text communications with other BlackBerry users.
Last winter BlackBerry introduced a free BBM voice calling service for legacy BlackBerry owners; with the launch of BlackBerry 10 in February, they added high definition video calling between BlackBerry 10 devices. With the video calling also came a screen sharing capability that allows users to share their BlackBerry screens during a video call.
Some BlackBerry 10 BBM screens:
|BBM for BlackBerry Activity Menu||BBM for BlackBerry Action menu|
(with launch voice/video)
|Message attachment options|
Over the next few months BlackBerry will introduce all these features into BBM for iOS and Android. In addition it will include a feature called BBM Channels which supports social networking via unique mini-blog posts using BBM.
Some screen shots from BBM for iOS (6 or 7 only):
|Contacts Screen||(Group) Chat Session
with Action Bar
|Chat Action Menu|
|BBM Application Menu||Invite Contact Options||Message Notification|
A very similar navigation interface to BBM on BlackBerry 10. So what does BBM (or BlackBerry Messenger) for iOS and Android do initially?
- Exchange text/chat messages
- optionally accompanied by photos/graphics and/or voice “notes” or messages,
- Share these messages with individuals or groups.
- Within a group share Lists, Pictures and schedule Events as well as chat sessions
- Create your own user profile with a picture, your name and your status (which may be linked to, say, FourSquare for updates).
In the next few months, BBM for iOS and Android will add voice calling, video calling with screen sharing and BBM Channels.
Why use BBM?
- It’s fast
- It’s cross platform: BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry OS (legacy devices), iPhone, iPad (iOS 6 or 7); Android phones
- It bypasses SMS messaging and the associated charges
- messages can be longer than 140 characters.
- Groups support collaboration through shared pictures, lists and event scheduling
- It’s free!
There are over 60 million users of BBM on BlackBerry devices. Over six million had registered to use BBM for iOS and Android prior to its launch. On its launch day it topped the free iPhone Apps charts in the U.K. and Canada and was number 2 in the U.S.
It works over both WiFi and carrier data channels. It replaces the need to use SMS messaging with its associated charges (especially when traveling outside your home country). And it’s fast; no delays.
- On your iPhone, iPad or Android phone browser go to BBM.com. That will take you directly to the app in the relevant app store for installation.
- Open the app; Enter your email and request access; they are queuing the requests so that servers are not overloaded. (Over 6 million had requested to be notified when BBM for iOS & Android became available.)
- Look for the response email (this may take a few hours) and then go back to the application and set up your account.
- Note: if you previously had an BlackBerry Messenger account on a former BlackBerry device, you will be able to access that account, with all its contacts, and move it to your iPhone/iPad/Android phone.
Bottom line: BBM for iOS and Android brings along not simply enhanced cross-platform messaging but also collaboration features. Being free, it’s also a great app to overcome SMS messaging charges, (WiFi or carrier data plan is required). Having used it extensively for a few years (and especially as it has evolved into a full conversation and collaboration platform), definitely recommended.
Go to BBM.com on your device to get started.
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