Just as BlackBerry appeared doomed to fade into irrelevancy, the company’s popular chat application BlackBerry Messenger stormed back on to the scene, making its way to the iOS and Android app stores. Pitting a well known brand against relative newcomers such as Kik, LINE and recent Facebook acquisition WhatsApp, BBM managed to quickly steal a huge segment of the audience for itself. In case you still haven’t given it a try, James Richardson makes a strong case for BBM in a recent article at CrackBerry, so we decided to share his favorite features to see if this list is enough to convert you.
- Know when your messages are delivered and read: Like it or not, our chat applications now hold us accountable for timely responses. Whether you’re on Facebook, iChat or WhatsApp, you and your friends can see when your message has arrived and when it’s been read, but some apps are more reliable than others. For example, WhatsApp uses a check mark and a double check mark, but the double check mark only means that the message has reached the server, not the recipient’s phone. On BBM, ‘D’ means delivered and ‘R’ means read. It’s simple and clean, the way a chat app should be.
- Share files with friends: Most mobile messaging apps contain some degree of file sharing, but it’s a crapshoot whether or not the interface will be at all intuitive. Fortunately, BBM’s file sharing menu is about as straightforward as they come. Tap the paperclip to the left of the chat, select the share icon and six buttons will pop up on the bottom of the screen. You’ll be able to access media, appointments, contacts, location, files and even your Dropbox account.
- Never leave friends or family hanging: Have you ever been patiently waiting in a restaurant for a friend, scrolling through old photos or bookmarked websites to pass the time? With BBM’s Glympse integration, your friends can share their location in real-time for up to four hours, allowing you to keep track of them as they make their delayed approach.
- Keep your contact list manageable: Chat apps such as Kik and WhatsApp are infamous for their ability to fill up with every contact on your phone before you’ve had a chance to sort through the list, but BBM is much more understanding. The only way you’re ever going to receive a message on BBM is if you decide to share your PIN with a friend or vice versa.
- Additional features: All in all, BBM isn’t terribly different from its competition. Although it manages to do many things better than other apps on the market, many of the features are identical to those of Kik, LINE and WhatsApp. In order to differentiate itself, BlackBerry has included some extra content within BBM, most notably BBM Channels. Channels allow BBM users to subscribe to their favorite content creators directly from the app, further condensing the mobile experience and keeping users engaged.
With well over 100 million registered users, BBM has staked its claim in the chat market. BlackBerry might not be drawing in quite as many monthly active users as WhatsApp, but as the company continues to double down on updates and new features, don’t expect BBM to disappear any time soon.