BlackBerry today announced the arrival of BBM 2.0 for Android and iOS, which brings BBM Channels, BBM Voice, and other new features to the popular cross-platform messaging app. The Canadian company first teased this update back in December, and now it is finally rolling out through the App Store and Google Play.By adding these features, BlackBerry brings BBM for Android and iOS much closer to their original BlackBerry 10 counterpart in terms of functionality. While those using the company’s own platform previously had something of an advantage with exclusive access to things like BBM Channels, that’s no longer the case.
BBM Voice is pretty self-explanatory; this is what you’ll use to make free voice calls to other BBM users around the world. It’s just like Skype or Viber’s VoIP calling service, but a perfect alternative for BBM fans. To use it, look for the green icon in the top right-hand corner of a chat conversation.
BBM Channels is the feature that differentiates BBM from rival messaging services like WhatsApp and Kik. It’s essentially a group chat feature; users can create Channels based on their interests, then invite others to join in with the conversation.
Channels like the popular “Through My Lens” allow those with an interest for photography to share pictures that they are proud of with other BBM users; while the official Mercedes-Benz and Toronto Raptors Channels allow fans to get in touch with their favorite brands and teams.
You can now share your real-time location through BBM thank to Glympse integration, making it easier for friends to find you when you’re out and about. You can specify how long you’d like to share your location for — so it won’t follow you all day, every day — and who it is shared with.
BBM 2.0 also boasts Dropbox integration, allowing you to quickly share Dropbox files with other BBM contacts; and there are now more than 100 emoticons that you can use to express yourself.