BBM iOS, Android users can soon make free phone calls

BlackBerry revs up a new version of its Messenger app with chat channels, a location sharing option, and Dropbox integration.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry Messenger users can tap into a potpourri of new features when the app is updated on Thursday.

Slated to reach iOS and Android users, version 2.0 of BBM will bring with it BBM Voice, a way to call your BBM contacts. Already available for BlackBerry OS, BBM Voice gives you the ability to make free phone calls to other BBM users via your Wi-Fi or data connection.

Another new feature on the list is BBM Channels, a chat discussion forum devoted to a variety of topics. Find a channel that interests you, and you can join in on conversations with other BBM users.

The update also offers new features to BlackBerry 10 users as well as those on iOS and Android.

BBM Groups helps you share pictures, lists, and appointments with people in a specific group, such as friends or family members. This feature is already available, but the new version of BBM will let you create larger groups with as many as 50 people.

BBM will come with Dropbox built in, so you can send a file directly from your Dropbox account to a fellow BBM user. Receive a file on your end, and you can add it to your Dropbox storage as well. You'll also be able to quickly share new photos, voice notes, calendar events, and other items with people during a chat session.

Finally, BBM users keen to share their location during a chat can use a new feature provided by Glympse. You set a timer to share your current whereabouts with a fellow BBM user for anywhere up to four hours. When the timer runs out, your location becomes private again.

"BBM continues to grow in popularity and we are focused on providing our users the best, most full-featured mobile messaging and sharing experience in the market," Sean Hungerford, BlackBerry's director of BBM Product Management, said in a statement. "Our partnership with Glympse will help us take the BBM experience a step further by adding live location sharing and making the experiences our users share on BBM more dynamic than ever."

The new version of BBM will offer all the new features to BlackBerry 10 users. Those running BlackBerry OS5 and above will also get an update but one without the Dropbox integration and location sharing. BlackBerry didn't give a specific ETA for the update, saying it would roll out later in the day on Thursday.

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About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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