BBM Update Adds Voice Calls, Channels, Dropbox And Location Sharing For iOS And Android Users

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A new update to the BBM apps for iOS and Android add a laundry list of anticipated features to the messaging platform. BBM Voice makes its first appearance on the Android and iPhone clients, allowing users to make direct voice calls to their BBM contacts via either Wi-Fi or cellular networks; BBM Channels provide message-board style group interactions around a particular topic, theme or personality; plus, users can now share location information with contacts via Glympse, and Dropbox files.

Also new is one-click sharing, which makes it easier for users to send photos, documents, voice messages and other kinds of content to their network connections. The Glympse-powered location sharing lets people send their real-time current whereabouts, complete with timed data availability set by the user, so that you can let a business contact know where you are relative to their location if you’re running behind, but take away that access after say 30 minutes. There’s also expanded emoticon support, with 100 new ones added to help users perfectly convey their feelings without the need for pesky, hard to spell words.

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Many of these features are inherited from the existing set of capabilities of the native BlackBerry OS version of BBM, and were promised back when the app launched on iOS and Android last year. But they’re very welcome additions, and should help provide the network with value add incentives to draw in new users. BBM recently lost its top executive leader as Andrew Bocking departed BlackBerry, and now it seems likely he was hanging around to make sure this update shipped before taking his leave.

BBM 2.0 shipping is a good sign for the messaging client, but its progress in terms of user growth since launch remains a bit of a question mark. These updates at least show that third-party platform development continues to be a priority for the company. Under recent executive shifts, BBM now falls under the purview of the Global Enterprise Solutions, division, so we’ll see how that affects consumer product efforts.