A substantial update is coming to BlackBerry Messenger for Android today, bringing many new features including voice calls and Channels.
Some of these new features were first introduced to the beta channel back on January 3, but now stable BBM for Android is being updated to version 2.0. The iOS app is receiving the same treatment.
Many of these new features are already present in the BlackBerry version of the messaging service, which still enjoys considerable popularity in markets like South Africa and Indonesia. Probably the biggest addition is the ability to make voice calls to BBM contacts, on WiFi or cellular networks. This feature was probably first priority for BBM fans, and now that it’s online, BlackBerry’s messaging service can compete more evenly with apps like Whatsapp, Skype, or Viber.
Another big new feature is Channels, which allows group interactions between members of a community. BBM for Android 2 lets users share their geographical location, including real-time data, thanks to Glympse integration. One use case for this feature would be users who want to let a contact know they are late and share with them an approximate location for a certain period of time.
Users can now share files with contacts with one-click, including files stored on Dropbox. BBM for Android 2 also brings improved emoticon support, with over 100 new ones on tap.
BBM for Android 2 is due to roll out today. If you haven’t installed it yet, check it out in the Play Store.