Even as Blackberry has fallen from grace over the last few years, its proprietary messaging service BBM has remained a solid, well-designed product. A few months back, the company announced plans to bring the product to iOS and Android. We were excited then, and after spending a few minutes with the final build of both apps, we're thinking this could be BlackBerry's foothold into a new future.
BBM retains all the same features on its new platform homes as it did in BlackBerry's proprietary OS -- for example, new users will be given their own BBM pins. Running on an Apple iPhone 5 and a Samsung Galaxy S4 respectively, the iOS and Android apps navigated smoothly during our brief play; there's no transition lag when navigating between chats and menus. BlackBerry has done an admirable job adapting the product to the design language and interface conventions of both of its new homes.
Seeing BBM in action on the Galaxy S4 was particularly striking because having last used the messenger on the relatively small-screened BlackBerry Z10, it looks massive on the big screen.
It looks downright beautiful and usable—even without a physical QWERTY! But the big question is whether or not anyone will actually use it. BBM was an innovative product years ago, but messaging over a data connection isn't hard to find these days, with offerings from tech monoliths like Google and Facebook. BlackBerry reps told me that while the apps don't offer new features, the company plans to continue developing social features to make BBM a more enticing product.
BBM hits Android on Saturday, September 21st, and iOS on Sunday, September 22nd.