BBM has finally found its way to Android and iOS powered phones, much to the delight of faithful BlackBerry fans the world over. This Techspirited article looks at the features of the new and improved messenger on these platforms.
The official launch of the BBM app for Android and iOS was delayed by a couple of weeks due to an unexpected pre-release leak of the app rolling out on the platforms.
BlackBerry Messenger, the one messenger that started the trend of easy and secure social messaging, has finally moved on with time, and molded itself into Android form, with an Apple for company. What was once the Canadian company’s crown jewel, has now made its way to the playground of Google and Apple. Once bitter rivals, BlackBerry now has its hopes pinned on these companies to help keep it afloat.
The financial woes of BlackBerry are known to one and all, and in a move intended to fight this tide, the company has released its popular BBM app for Android and iOS. The response has been phenomenal, to say the least, and the company servers were overwhelmed with the sudden influx of traffic. A lot of people are since waiting in line for activation emails to use the messenger. While people wait their turn to jump on to the BBM bandwagon, here’s a look at what the app has in store for Android and iOS users the world over.
The app is very much in line with the design language of the latest BB10 OS. The interface is fairly simple, and side swipes help to navigate through the various screens. There are four tabs at the very bottom, Menu (left), Chats, Contacts, Groups, Menu (right).
Image Source: press.blackberry.com
Left Menu Bar
This tab is to the extreme left and displays a summary of all the other tabs.
This tab shows the number of active chats. Clicking on it takes you to the main chats page.
Clicking on this tab gives you an overview of all your friends’ recent activities like change of profile pic, status message, and other updates in this tab.
The tab displays the number of groups that you are a part of. Clicking on it takes you to the Groups page.
Here, you can see the number of pending invites that you have sent and/or received. Clicking on it takes you to a page that gives you further details of the pending invites, categorized according to Invites Sent and Invites Received. You can also send across new invites from this page by typing in their PIN, sending an email, text message, or scanning their PIN barcode.
This page displays all your ongoing chats, with the preview of your last message sent or received, along with a thumbnail of the contact to the left, and the time of the last message to the right. It also lets you know if your contact is typing a reply to your message. Clicking on any of the conversations, takes you into the message window which displays the conversations as various tabs. The chat options are fairly standard, and you can attach an image, voice note, or file to it. You also have access to all the standard emoticons, although there are no stickers available here. The app also does not currently support BBM Voice and BBM Video, which are features reserved for BlackBerry users. It also does not let you share your location. You can start a new chat with one or multiple contacts from this menu, and also ping them. A small icon by the side of each message notifies you when the message has been delivered (D) and read (R).
The display pics of all your contacts are displayed here as thumbnails, along with their names at the bottom. All new notifications from a contact show up in the form of the signature asterisk symbol to the upper-right corner of their images. Clicking on any of the images takes you to a chat window with the contact.
This page shows all the groups that you are a part of. You can join groups, or form one of your own on BBM. To join a group, simply scan its barcode, and wait for the approval. If you want to start your own group, create the group, and send invites to your contacts.
Right Menu Bar
This tab is to the extreme right, and gives you access to Help, Settings, Invite to BBM, Start Multiperson Chat, etc. It also lets you share a message with a select group of contacts. You can choose to change basic settings like your account details, notifications, conversation history, contacts layout, location, etc., from the Settings tab. It also gives you information about the app version and other legal information.
Your profile image (if you have set one), availability, and status updates show right at the top in the app. You can tap on either the status or your image to edit your profile. You can also view your previous profile changes by clicking on the Updates tab.
Although many might argue that BlackBerry’s move comes a little too late, the phenomenal response BBM has received on both the platforms goes to show that the brand is still just as popular now as it was before. The app, however, is far from perfect, and lacks most of the features available on other messaging platforms. It remains to be seen just if and how BBM adapts and sustains itself in the midst of all the competition.