BlackBerry has unveiled its latest version of BBM today, bringing the newer iOS and Android versions of the messaging and sharing app closer to feature parity with its BlackBerry 10 counterpart. Two main additions — BBM Voice and BBM Channels — are flanked by other seemingly minor, but together significant, features: location sharing using Glympse, Dropbox file sharing support for larger files stored in the cloud, and the expansion of the built-in suite of emoticons.
Perhaps the most significant upgrade is BBM Channels, which debuted on legacy BlackBerry and BB10 devices last year. A major revenue hopeful for BlackBerry, Channels allows users to create their own channels for others to follow, though the main focus is on brand building and development. Companies can interact on a smaller scale than something like Twitter, maintaining a personal connection to their followers, while still pushing a broadcast message to large numbers of people. BlackBerry claimed that there were 250,000 channels a month after the service launched.
BBM Voice has been available on legacy BB and BlackBerry 10 devices for a while now, but the company has claimed a competitive advantage over rivals like Skype, Viber and other free VoIP services; its wider-bandwidth codecs make calls, both over WiFi and cellular networks, sound cleaner. We’ll certainly be testing that notion in the days and weeks to come, but it’s a great addition nonetheless. No word on when BBM Video is coming to either platform.
BBM 2.0 for iOS and Android, along with a new version for BlackBerry 10, will be available later today. We’ll update this post with more information.