In an attempt to try and reestablish itself in the smartphone market it was once a key component of, Canadian outfit BlackBerry announced earlier on this year that it was bringing its famed, exclusive BlackBerry Messenger service to iOS and Android. Neither of the big two ecosystems are short on IM services already, but with BlackBerry short on ideas, the decision to open up BBM could well be the catalyst needed for the brand to reemerge as a giant. Today, a beta version of both the iOS and Android versions are now available on the BlackBerry Beta Zone, and although not all members have been offered a chance to test out the unfinished software, it would appear that we’re drawing ever closer to the official release.
There’s no doubt that BB10 is a solid platform, and we’ve seen plenty of evidence and comparison clips with other major ecosystems to suggest there’s still plenty of life left therein. That said, it’s also quite obvious that BlackBerry is struggling, and although the company’s CEO Thorsten Heins suggested the opening up of BBM was “a state of confidence,” in that, the company can afford to make the messaging service more independent because “the BB10 platform is so strong,” there’s a lingering feeling that BlackBerry has quite a lot riding on the BBM name still being of relevance in 2013.
BlackBerry Beta Zone is a platform through which developers can test pre-release software, and although it’s usually reserved for BlackBerry-related releases only, this time, it plays host to some new faces.
As you can see from the screenshots below courtesy of the CrackBerry forums, the interface looks very similar to that of the BlackBerry version of BBM, which should be expected given that a large segment of BlackBerry handsets are now built with large touch displays rather than physical keyboards.
BBM for iOS and Android will take on the likes of WhatsApp Messenger, an app with a couple of years’ more experience in the field of cross-platform communication. Although myself, like many, am happy with my current combination of IM apps, I still cannot wait to test BBM on my iPhone and Android devices; to see, if nothing else, whether the service is as secure and generally efficient as it always has been.