New BBM for Android hits Beta Zone - Includes Channels, Voice and more

By Adam Zeis on 3 Jan 2014 09:49 am EST
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If you were worrying about the progress of BBM for Android — fear not. A new version has hit the BlackBerry Beta Zone that brings along many of the anticipated features Android users have been waiting for. In addition to some new tweaks and enhancements, the update has over 100 new emoticons, improved file sharing, BBM Channels and BBM Voice. 

The Android beta is only open to a small set of users, but if you're one of the few that has the privilege of checking out the beta, drop a comment and let us know how it's working for you. Fingers crossed that we'll see this one go official sooner rather than later.

 

Reader comments

New BBM for Android hits Beta Zone - Includes Channels, Voice and more

108 Comments

Respectfully, but ummm, no. Beta is not for public consumption and Google Play is definitely public. A release on Play would only lead to flaming about "why can't I have it? #fail" posts. Limit the user base to test functionality prior to opening the flood gates.

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Google Play has it's own Beta channel. It wouldn't go out to anyone who didn't opt-in to the beta, similar to how BlackBerry Beta Zone works.

Thanks for the info. Didn't know that. I stand corrected.

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Major confused in relation to such obvious and intuitive feature as sharing pictures in multiperson chats! People don't use BBM for default fun tool (as their prime social messenger), because it doesn't enable to share simple picture in multiperson chat. Did anybody in Canada check what new (Android / iPhone) Users do think about intuitiveness of BBM group chatting? To be brief, they don't find it as obvious as you...

[...] BBs always for young professionals - new BYOD hero: www.smartman.mobi

Agreed, this is a something I don't like about BBM. They should make it an option - load picture to the original option or load picture in chat, this is one area where I think WhatsApp is better.

Agreed 100%. I've been saying this. If you want to compete with WhatsApp you have to at least be able to offer the basic things WhatsApp offers. Not being able to share files, pictures, voice notes, videos or location on BBM Groups is a huge let down. in addition WhatsApp allows you to load larger files than BBM. Another let down. Hey, I love the BBM UI and think BBM Channels has plenty of potential once released to cross-platform, but if I'm going to convince friends to drop WhatsApp for BBM, you have to be able to compete.

Posted via CB10

U are right! They shoukd enable voice command in group chat and video share. Picture to be separate is quite good instead as u can track picture wthout scrolling for very long time..

Posted via CB10

I voiced that opinion in the bbm10.3 survey. The need for common features that the competition has us a must.

 AT&T Z10 STL100-3/10.2.0.1791 

What happened to BlackBerry on the mobile market says RIM neither listened lately to Customers, nor still listens... Such obvious features should be instantly fixed when you really think about future. On the other hand, there is some crazy feature in Z10. When you take 16:9 pictures you don't see what you exactly are getting. Z10 screen is 15:9! :)

[...] BBs always for young professionals - new BYOD hero: www.smartman.mobi

You know it's just a quick link to good old voice notes right? It's exactly like whatsapp: just aesthetic changes to an old feature.

Yes :). I'm just looking forward to the convenience of the redesign.

Whatsapp's PTT user experience is superior than BBM's voice notes when conducting a conversation.

Am I reading this right? How in the world does someone who uses an Android device, sign up for the Blackberry Beta Zone? I'd really like to know because I used to be in the beta zone when I used a BB device. I'd like to return if this is possible?

You have to be a current beta zone member and put down you have to also an android device

I'm qualified to say so because I own a BlackBerry and because I am the Black Squircle Samurai!

Bbm voice calls will have such an impact. I use it all the time. This will really help blackberry move forward and gain good solid traction. The gap between bb10 and android is closing.

Posted via CB10

How in the hell is the gap closing? I have a Z30 for work from a z10 bcuz I van...but for people to think BB phones will come back is crazy.. Its good but app support is horrendous and that is being very very kind

I hope they have also made bbm more usable on android because many of my friends were complaining that it doesn't preform well with the messages not getting delivered and the delay in D and R amongst many other issues!

Grrr I was hoping Video would arrive at the same time as Voice, but I'm not surprised that it's not. Video is more complex

Posted via CB10

I'm using it on my extra LG Optimus G Pro and it's just like the BlackBerry version, just laggy (but that's what android does). It will be cool to have everyone on the same level so content in the channels will be better. One recommendation I made in the survey was integration of box, not just dropbox, and RAM usage is a little high. Great stuff coming from BlackBerry!

Posted via CB10

I hope that while adding features, they really work on reducing the lag in the Android app. It gives a very heavy experience that you definitely don't get with WhatsApp.

Perhaps, but the problem with Whatsup is you don't always receive the texts you want and then receive texts that were never intended for you. This along with their data mining of contacts are a huge turn off. When BBM is fully integrated with voice and video, I think Whatsup will be seen as yesterday's technology and will die a slow death.

Doubtful. I dislike WhatsApp, but it's about user experience. BBM on Android feels laggy. No matter how great the features are, if the experience isn't good, people will find other alternatives.

Disagree. I can't wait to drop WhatsApp, only reason I'm still on it is because one of my friends has a Windows phone (No BBM) and most of the others don't want to switch (due to file sharing in Groups issue and lagging delivery of messages). But because I use both BBM and WhatsApp too, I can say this, while BBM has more options and is prettier. WhatsApp is way more reliable and faster and that's a problem BlackBerry needs to work on quick. Hope to see that improve with the updates.

Posted via CB10

+10! I'm glad you mention that because that's BBM's single most important issue right now and that alone has turned off a lot of potential users from iOS/Android. Great user experience is everything in my opinion. Even if an app has a ton of features and is very laggy/unreliable, it will turn a lot of people off and convince them to search for alternatives. Yeah, I hope the BBM team does a good job of improving that with the updates! I really want BBM to continue its success that it has but it still has much more work to do.

I agree with you. WhatsApp is more reliable and faster. And that was my point - no matter how pretty BBM is, or what features they implement, if it is slow and laggy, people won't want to use it. I have friends who wanted it to work out and uninstalled it out of frustration from slow, laggy app, persistent notification that they really don't want to have, and unreliable message delivery.
I think BlackBerry really needs to improve the performance and reliability of BBM just as much as they need to bring these advanced features cross platform.

Bring it, I can't wait to start Video chatting with everyone else I know that is on iOS and Android.

Posted from my CB10 via the power of "Q"

The best news for BlackBerry in 2014.... may it continue. I will check to see if my friends have the beta. I need BBM voice in a big way..

Posted via CB10

Still really wish they would allow android tablets to load a profile. Or sync to an existing bb10 phone (like bridge for an android tablet)...

Posted via CB10

Beta participant, great so far! . Although first call with speakerphone, recipient reported bad echo. More emoticons and channels FTW !

I'd really like to see them switch to GCM instead of using that persistent notification as a keep-alive method for the application. I really don't like to have that in my notification bar, but the app is so unreliable if you turn it off. This really shouldn't be something that's required.

BlackBerry shouldn't depend on Google's security, the notification doesn't bother me, actually it gives a quick way of accessing BBM.

so it's fine that they use apple's push notification service but not gcm? i don't think that has anything to do with security reasons. point is, switching off that persistent notification shouldn't affect the reliability of the application.

How do you know that they use Apple's push notification service? I don't like it, tbh the iOS version is highly unreliable.

It has to do either with security concerns or that GCM is simply not compatible with whatever system BlackBerry uses in their servers, imo.

so basically, iOS is highly unreliable. Android is highly unreliable unless using a keep alive notification. Seems that BlackBerry needs to look at a different way of implementing delivery and notifications, because other messaging apps aren't experiencing these same issues.

They don't need new features - they need to fix the app they have!!! I have lost nearly all of my friends because BBM for iPhone sucks!!! It keeps signing out on people, messages aren't delivered reliably whatsoever, and the app in general is slow and unresponsive.

Posted from my Q10 on the West Coast

Bbm voice is a nice addition, but BBM Video would perhaps be a bigger and better release imo.

C0038297E Quote of the Day (BBM Channel)

True, video would be a nice to have but BBM money would make it a game changer and differentiator. Split a cab fare, pay a tip, split a restaurant check, split a gift cost, send your kid $5 if he forgot his/her lunch... Once they establish secure transfer of funds, they can extend it to making direct payments. BlackBerry already is testing mobile money transactions in Canada.

I hope this improves the notifications, which don't behave like the other messaging apps on Android, and haven't been working correctly at all for a week or two now. I've noticed that the notification sounds have stopped working in the last week or two, and can I heck as like get it to produce any sound. I often miss messages because of this. I've noticed several people reporting the same issue recently in the Play Store comments, so something odd must be happening. In fact I notice the app was updated on 19th December, which is around the time it seemed to stop working, so I'm guessing something got broke in that release.

I rock the Z30 and my partner the Q10...She and I use the BBM voice on a regular basis when I'm on the road...when in the city...we use BBM Video...BlackBerry rocks...woo-hoo

Posted via CB10

BBM Channels for Android sounds good. But I'm unsure if most Android users will even try it.

BlackBerry Z10 / 10.2.0.1791

I got this update in beta zone and its much faster and i cant use voice call because noone have the new version yet but channels working fine

and my rating over all is 10/10

I can't even use BBM voice over AT&T because they block it. I need wifi. Hope the other networks allow it.

Posted via CB10

The update is automatic through Google Play instead of Hockey App.

BBM Channels on Android is pretty sweet.

If you're on the Android beta program, Subscribe to Geeks United - C00122408

check in google or twitter (bbm 2.00.0.0.138 apk) i tried it and everything is working like a charm,at least to see the features inside but never connect to the server , i can't send messages or receive

The problem is you need to be registered as a beta user to use the apk

You can install it but bbm voice nor sending msg works
Tried it myself

Features which I consider as mandatory to give THE user experience are 1) customizable ringtones for iPhones including separate tones for MSG, PINGs, and voice calls. Audible alert tones are essential! 2) reduce ram hogging which is mandatory for Gingerbread devices. 3) ringtones again.
Reason: my wife can't hear the incoming message or the PINGs with her iPhone thru the flipcase and inside her handbag. I cant contact her and its hours later the mesage is read. Women don't carry iPhones in belt pouches.

Anyone know if these guys have decided to allow group notifications to be turned off in Android? Alot of people who are in groups find it frustrating that they can't control the notifications