New BBM Update Brings Free Access To Privacy Features

Messaging apps are a dime a dozen these days, and although BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) from the Canadian smartphone vendor was once all the rage, it has been relegated to the back seat over the past several years with the advent of various cross-platform mobile messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Hike, Viber, Line, WeChat and the like. However, BBM's dwindling popularity can mostly be attributed to the falling market share of BlackBerry’s smartphones amidst an explosion of consumer-oriented mobile platforms like Android and iOS. Having accepted the declining nature of its own, in-house operating system, BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion) made its BBM app cross-platform back in 2013, meaning, it wasn’t exclusive for BlackBerry handsets anymore.

However, the damage was done, and BBM, the service that was once the first and last word in the world of instant mobile messaging, was now hard pressed to find new users, who had, by then, hopped onto the bandwagon of some of the newer kids on the messaging block, like WhatsApp or iMessage. As for BBM, even as the Canadian company was trying to gain more users for its messaging app, it withdrew a couple of its newer features – Retract and Timer – from the free version of the software. The features were originally introduced to BBM in late 2014, and was available for free with the basic version of the app. However, as part of its push to monetize software in face of fast-declining hardware sales, BlackBerry introduced a $1 monthly fee for a premium tier, and incorporated the two aforementioned features within that subscription plan.

However, the latest update to the BlackBerry Messenger app on the Google Play Store has now reinstated the ‘Retract’ and ‘Timer’ features to the free version of the app, although, the paid-for premium subscription tier continues to remain an option. While most of the features on BBM are now available for free with the ‘Privacy and Control’ subscription tier being done away for good, users can still opt to pay a monthly fee to get rid of the ads and avail of a couple of other features, called ‘Sticker Club’ and ‘Custom Pin’.

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About the Author

Kishalaya Kundu

Senior Staff Writer
I've always been a tech buff and have been building my own PCs since as far back as I can remember. My first computer was a home-built desktop running MS-DOS on which I learnt to program in GW-BASIC and my interests apart from technology include automobiles and sports.