A new beta version of the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for Android gets Channels and BBM voice, allowing users to make voice calls.
BlackBerry's well-known messaging service made its debut on iOS and Android platforms in October 2013 and since its release, millions of customers have downloaded the app.
BlackBerry was previously reported to be developing voice and video call features for BBM for iOS and Android. Now the company has at least one feature, BBM voice, to the beta version of the Android version of BBM. Being in beta development stage, the release of the consumer version of the updated app still remains unknown. However, BBM customers will be happy to know that the company is working on new features for the Android version.
BBM voice is BlackBerry's free voice call system that works in the same way as Skype or other VoIP services. Both the caller and the receiver should be using BBM on a phone that supports BBM Voice Chat. As long as a user is connected to a Wi-Fi network they can make a voice call to other BBM Voice Chat users for free.
The latest beta version also includes BBM Channels, which is currently available only on BlackBerry 10 smartphones. BBM Channels lets users interact with other BBM users about a topic of common interest. BBM Channels allows users to follow people, brands or topics as well as comment or like posts. The company reported that more than 250,000 BBM Channels were made by a global user base since the launch of BBM Channels in late 2013.
BlackBerry, as a company, is struggling in the competitive handset space. However, the company said that its BBM service is still doing well in the smartphone community. The company also said that BBM is "well-positioned to compete" with its rivals.
The beta version with the updated features is currently in development only for the Android platform. Android BBM app users can hope that the company releases the consumer version of the app as soon as possible. Similarly, iOS users will also want to get BBM voice and BBM Channels on their handsets in the near future.