Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

BlackBerry Messenger lets you take back that text

The new version of the messaging app -- which works on BlackBerry, Android and iOS -- has an unsend feature. It also pulls a Snapchat by letting users send vanishing messages.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

I take it back! Users of BlackBerry's BBM messaging app can now unsend texts and send messages that disappear after a set time. BlackBerry/YouTube/screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

BlackBerry has added a couple of new features to its BBM app to help you better control your messages. But they'll be free only for a limited time, as the company has revealed plans for a subscription version.

Announced Friday, the latest update to BlackBerry Messenger introduces a feature called Message Retraction. You can now remove a message from the BBM chat screen after you've sent it. So if you accidentally say the wrong thing, you have a chance to take it back before you get in trouble. Your message will be replaced with a note that reads "message retracted," however, and you can't yet retract attachments or file transfers.

A second new feature, called Timed Messages, mimics vanishing-message apps like Snapchat and lets you control how long the messages and pictures you send to your contacts remain visible. Your message stays hidden until your recipient touches and holds on the chat, according to BlackBerry. After the timer expires or the recipient is no longer touching the screen, the message disappears. You also are notified if your recipient tries to preserve the message by taking a screenshot of it.

BlackBerry added a few other features as well to the new BBM. If your recipient gets a picture during a chat, that person can ask for a high-definition version to view the image in greater detail. You can now more easily browse BBM Stickers to add them to a chat, and you can find new music by checking out what tunes are popular among your BBM contacts.

"These new enhancements to BBM were highly requested, so we're excited to be delivering them to users today," John Sims, president of Global Enterprise Services at BlackBerry, said in a statement. "These capabilities will allow our users to be more creative in how they deliver their messages while also being confident that their content is kept private and seen only by its intended recipient."

There is one catch. Both Message Retraction and Timed Messages are "premium features" that will be available free and unrestricted only over the next three months. After that time, "unrestricted access to these features will become part of a broader bundle of features that will be offered as part of a BBM subscription," BlackBerry said.

No further details were available on this upcoming BBM subscription edition.

A spokeswoman for BlackBerry told CNET that the company has not yet revealed pricing information or additional features that might be included in the subscription plan. But more details will become available once the free three-month trial for Message Retraction and Timed Messages starts to wind down.

With its share of the mobile phone market virtually at rock bottom, BlackBerry has been focusing on other products and services, such as BBM. Initially directed just toward BlackBerry users, the app launched in Google's Android and Apple's iOS about a year ago, where they scored 10 million downloads in the first 24 hours.

A Windows Phone edition of BBM is also available but won't receive the latest update for some time.