Be honest: when’s the last time you got excited about something BlackBerry released? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…
For me it was their first tablet, the BlackBerry Playbook. The Playbook looked good, showed potential, but was DOA. The highly anticipated relaunch of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for Android and iOS will be no different and here’s why.
Blackberry Messenger sticks out like a sore thumb on Android. You’re immediately greeted with a clunky, gradient navigation bar, big buttons and lots of whitespace – a throwback Instagram look. It feels as if BlackBerry tried to bring their mobile OS to Android instead of adapting to a new environment. These design mistakes aren’t so glaring on iOS, and it’ll be interesting to see if BlackBerry rereleases the app with a look more in-line with iOS 7.
Tapping the top navigation bar takes you to your profile options which include changing your name, adding a quick message or updating your status. A barcode option to let friends a barcode with your BBM pin using their phone and easy to access to start a new chat from the Chats section. The bottom navigation bar gives you quick access chats, contacts and groups.
Swiping to the right or tapping the menu icon gives you access to the same navigation options, contact updates and invites sent and received. Swiping to the left or tapping the options icon brings up more chat actions (multiperson chat, broadcast message, invites), app settings and help information. There are a host of options for inviting others to connect on BBM including SMS and NFC.
Once you start a chat, you can add another person to the mix or send a file attachment (pictures and voice notes only on iOS). Tapping the top bar takes you to your friend’s profile. To end a chat, just bring up the options menu, which also lets you ping someone and copy the chat. Keep in mind, ending a chat deletes all its messages, but Blackberry does provide an option to save chats in the app’s settings.
BlackBerry Messenger: Efficient and Light
On the bright side, BlackBerry Messenger is arguably more efficient than its competitors. It’s not bogged down with a bunch of features like Google Hangouts and supports group messaging, emojis and media attachments like Whatsapp. You’re also not at risk for being bombarded with random chat requests thanks to BBM’s infamous pin system. It has everything the average user would need from a chat app and nothing more.
On the other hand, power users may find the app to be too minimal. It doesn’t support video chat or landscape mode. The design isn’t inspiring and the Android version has a creepy BBM icon that stays in the notification bar.
Unless you have a good group of friends still holding on to their BlackBerry’s, or you’re Olivia Pope, you’re really not missing anything as we wait for BlackBerry to get out of rollout hell.