BlackBerry is a tough nut, you have to admit it. It’s been years since the company has been struggling to maintain its niche, against a ruthless advance of Android and Apple ecosystems. It is hard to estimate the recent move from Facebook and its acquisition WhatsApp that both announced recently they would cease support of BB devices by the end of 2016. And BlackBerry is taking the blow with dignity. The platform has been known for its elevated security standards, and now BlackBerry is bringing some of its top of the crop security features of its BBM messaging app for free for all.
As of now anyone using BBM can enjoy the features that previously required subscription for free. These include Retract and Timer.
Retract is by far one of the coolest features ever integrated into a messaging app. Have you ever wished you could take back the words you said (typed) in a fit of anger or rage? Unless your recipient already read the message, you can take it back, literally. This is the perfect feature to make use of when you get fed up and tell people what you really think of them. Except that it’s not the best solution to any problem. So, once the message is delivered, but has not been read yet, you can Retract it. If it’s been read, sorry.
Timer is another awesome privacy feature, aka Timed Messages, that lets you choose how long you wish for the message to remain readable. Set the timer, send the message. The moment the countdown reaches zero the messages will auto-destruct from both the sender’s and the recipient’s devices.
BBM Private Chat
Among other premium features that are now available for free in BBM is a Private Chat, which lets you remove names and avatars from the chat interface, for better privacy in case somebody might be taking a sneak peek at your phone.
Edit is another awesomeness now available for free. With Edit, you can edit a message you already sent. Of course, provided it has not been read, yet.
There are more features added in the latest update, such as the ability to forward messages between the chats. Some Android-specific include: mute notifications for group chats, view all media files in a chat, Android Marshmallow support, and the ability to save images taken during BBM chat to device storage. IOS-specific features that came in the last update include the ability to multi-select messages to retract or edit, capture and share larger videos and an option to save pictures taken during BBM chat to device. A nifty feature available to BlackBerry devices only is the ability to reatract all messages in a chat when it ends. Say, you are calling it quits with somebody and retract all your messages from your tet-à-tet chat. Basta.
Just in case you have not tried the app before, BBM lets you add contacts to its app, or likewise, share your contact details with the help of a BBM PIN, without having to disclose your phone number or email address. This is a feature we would want to see implemented in all chat apps one day. This is exactly the same feature that lets you block contacts from sending you messages. Free voice calling – check; file and voice notes sharing – check; delivery and read reports – check; reply in progress alert – check; stickers and emoticons – check; location sharing – check; always connected – check; up to 250 members group chat – check; broadcast messages – check; BBM channels with posts shareable to groups and individual chats and more.
If you are a paid member, you just need to cancel your subscription and keep enjoying the features for free. In Android, go to Google Play app. Tap Menu in the top left corner → My Accounts → Subscriptions → Cancel. In iOS, do not renew a subscription. In BlackBerry 10 → BlackBerry World → Subscriptions → cancel.
With the slew of privacy features, no wonder BlackBerry is under fire from the Silicon Valley behemoths, stalling the adoption of easy to use encryption by default for everyone. WhatsApp did implement encryption as of now, but something tells me it’s nothing more than a PR move.