BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) has been a big highlight of the BlackBerry phone. Previously exclusive only to the BlackBerry, it is now being rolled out free for iPhones and Android devices.
A couple features I find notable in this version of the app is read and delivery receipts for knowing when a message has been delivered as well as when the contact opens (reads) it. Also, in contrast to the timestamps on the iPhone’s native SMS app, BBM includes the time next to each message for easy viewing.
Before using the app, you must register an account so you can be provided a PIN to be used for others to include you as a contact.
Sign Up for a BlackBerry PIN
Signing up for a PIN is as easy as creating an account. The PIN is then generated and displayed for use. A PIN is used so you don’t have to give out your phone number when adding contacts. Visit this link to create an account.
When the account has been created, you’ll be asked to login when you launch the BBM app for the first time. If you already have a PIN from a previous BlackBerry device, you can login with the correct credentials and use the same PIN.
A Look at BBM App for the iPhone
The first menu section on the bottom is for “Chats,” where all the messages are contained. Click a message for a detailed pane of the history. This includes the notable read and delivered notations next to each message.
Notice the small “R” is indicative that the recipient has read the message. In addition to these handy functions, you can also view when the other contact is typing, like when using WhatsApp.
BlackBerry has indicated video functionality being included with messaging, but this first release doesn’t include the feature.
Select the “Attach” menu button to open the options shown in the bottom left image. You can add a voice note or an image. The emoticons icon to the right of the text area shows three pages of icons that can be added to a message.
The bottom right menu button opens the extended menu like the image to the left. It’s here you also have the “Attach” option. Furthermore, you can invite more contacts to join the chat or copy the entire chat history.
I particularly like this option because it’s much easier to use than trying to backup iPhone text messages. Although this is only useful per contact, you can send the complete history via email for easy backup.
The “Ping” option is like a nudge or alert for the other contact.
BBM may very well function as a good WhatsApp alternative. Especially when the video functionality comes out I can see a strong reason to want to switch to BBM. The read and delivery receipts are very helpful and much more useful than the standard SMS functions the iPhone natively comes with. If you are used to using What’s App on your current phone, you will be quite comfortable with working with BBM on your iOS or Android Device.
Update: Blackberry has removed the BBM app from the Android Play Store and Apple App Store because of a leaked version and security fears. Blackberry has updated their blog with the following information:
“Our teams continue to work around the clock to bring BBM to Android and iPhone, but only when it’s ready and we know it will live up to your expectations of BBM. We are pausing the global roll-out of BBM for Android and iPhone. Customers who have already downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to continue to use BBM. The unreleased Android app will be disabled, and customers who downloaded it should visit www.BBM.com to register for updates on official BBM for Android availability.”