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BBM for iPhone and Android user guides surface online

What kind of app needs an instruction manual? The new BBM app, apparently.

What kind of app needs its own instruction manual? The new BBM app apparently, as user guides for the upcoming iOS and Android versions of the chatting service have appeared online.

The lengthy guides appeared as part of a BlackBerry site that was put live early, Polish-language site BBNews reports. You can view the iOS guide here, and the Android version here [PDF links].

While there's still no fixed date for the long-awaited multi-platform app to go live, the guides will let you read up on how the new software works, if you simply can't wait.

Basics -- including what individual icons mean and how to sign in -- are covered, as are tips on viewing someone's BBM profile and setting the app to save your chat history. Crucially, the guide tells you which emoticons you can use.

Hopefully the new app, which will be free to download, will be self-explanatory enough that you don't actually need to leaf through a guide before diving in. The multi-platform service will let BlackBerry, Android and iPhone owners chat to each other on a single platform. BlackBerry hasn't mentioned anything about a Windows Phone app.

The long-awaited app is in testing now and will take on rival IM apps like WhatsApp and Viber, which are now reckoned to be more popular than texting. Make sure you read our comparison that lists the main features of each app, so you can figure out which one's best for you.

Earlier this summer UK network T-Mobile claimed on Twitter that the app would be released on 27 June, but BlackBerry quickly backtracked on that date. More than 100,000 people downloaded a fake version of the app before it was pulled from Google's app store.

It's no secret that BlackBerry is going through tough times, with the company recently confirming that it's reviewing 'strategic alternatives', that could result in the Canadian corporation being sold -- if it can find a buyer.

Is there any hope for BlackBerry? Are you eagerly awaiting BBM for iPhone and Android? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.