ORLANDO -- BlackBerry is finally bringing its BlackBerry Messenger app to Android and iOS this summer. The feature, which has been exclusive to BlackBerry since its inception, allows for messaging between BlackBerry users using their individual BlackBerry usernames. The latest iteration of BB Messenger, which debuted on the BlackBerry Z10, includes a host of new features including voice chat and screen sharing.
"We want to offer this pure mobile service to everyone," BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said. According to Heins, the software will initially launch with messaging and group chat features in tow. Additional features, including BBM Voice, screen sharing and video chat, will come later. BlackBerry also announced that its new BBM Channels feature will also make an appearance on the Android and iOS versions of BBM. Channels allows BBM users to create large-scale chat rooms where they can edit and publish content and share it with fellow subscribers immediately.
Users will also be able to discover new channels, view profiles for each channel they follow and subscribe to channels to immediately update them about new posts. BBM Channels also brings in a social media function, allowing users to like and comment on posts made in channels to which they subscribe. A monitoring option will also allow channel moderators to check up on user engagement and interaction.
The decision to bring BBM to Android and iOS is a big leap for BlackBerry, as the now formally exclusive feature was one of the biggest benefits to having a BlackBerry device, especially in emerging markets such as India and South America where BlackBerry is still huge. Heins sought to allay any concerns, however, saying bringing BBM to Android and iOS is "a statement of confidence. The BB10 platform is so strong and the response is so good that we are confident that it is time for BlackBerry Messenger to become an independent messaging platform."