New BBM beta offers the ability chat with people outside of your BBM contacts

UPDATE - A new Android beta has now also been pushed out with the exact same addition of the ability to chat with people outside of your BBM contact list.

With warning given well ahead that a new BBM beta was expected, the BlackBerry Beta Zone has now sent out emails to those who are a part of the BBM beta group and there're some interesting changes to be found. Both iOS and BlackBerry 10 have been updated with one identical feature, but the iOS version has few additional options as well as more bug fixes and more 'known issues' within the beta.

What's New this Build?

  • Chat with people outside of your BBM Contacts! Chatting with new friends is even easier. This new version of BBM allows you to send and receive messages with email contacts in your address book that are not yet BBM contacts. You're always in control - these "extended" contacts won't be able to see your profile picture or status updates until you add them as a BBM contact – which can be done easily with the push of a button.

  • There is just one limitation to keep in mind when testing - Both sender and recipient must be using latest beta in order to take advantage of this feature. Otherwise, starting a chat with extended contact will result in a prompt for invitation.

  • Remember - Timed and Retracted Messages is now a subscription item available in the BBM Shop. Subscribing will allow you to get unlimited access to Timed Messages and Message Retraction. Non-subscribers will be able to Retract a maximum of 3 Messages and send a maximum of 3 Timed Messages.

Known Issues for BlackBerry 10:

  • Adding contact by PIN only shows hex keyboard which means user cannot add contacts with vanity PINs

What's New this Build for iOS?

  • New BBM Voice call screen
  • Ability to hide installed sticker packs from chat picker
  • Group picture improvements
  • Select contacts by category when composing Multi-Person / Broadcast messages
  • Conversation backup and restore using iCloud
  • iPad support! No longer need to run BBM in compatibility mode

Known Issues for iOS:

  • Passcode users ONLY: if call recipient receives call while BBM is locked with passcode and recipient does not answer or caller hangs up BBM splash screen appears
  • Long display names do not render properly on new call screen
  • When sending a message to an Address Book contact, and recipient is not on a version of BBM that supports Address Book contacts, the message contains <b>% text
  • Chats restored from iCloud appear with the title "empty Chat" and blank display names. A restart will correct this
  • Share map location in BBM chat to BBM Contact, on recipient device tapping map view does not open the map

For BlackBerry 10 users who have been invited, you should see the update in the BlackBerry Beta Zone. iOS users who have been invited, your update can be found waiting for you in TestFlight.