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10/21/2013

BlackBerry's BBM Messenger launches for Android, iPhone users – slowly

Screenshot_2013-10-21-22-14-28Remember when BBM was the “in” thing?

Asking a girl or guy for their number at the bar was passe. With BBM, it was all about getting their PIN. And if you didn't have a PIN, you were immediately deemed as uncool as someone with a flip phone.

But then there were alternatives, other apps that worked across all smartphones, not just those made by Canada's Research in Motion – at the time.

Apps like WhatsApp took off, and so did Apple's own iMessage instant messaging service.

Both used data connections to send and receive messages and attachments. You could have group chat too. A feature most people really liked with BBM and spread to the competitors was send, delivered and read receipts

So finally, the company decided to release a BBM app for Android and iPhone users – many of which may have once used BBM on a BlackBerry phone.

It was supposed to happen in late September, but a leaked version of the app reportedly delayed the launch (which was coincidentally close to the time the company allowed massive layoffs).

And now today, the company said it was ready to launch BBM for All – for real – this time.

Due to overwhelming demand, BlackBerry decided that only people who signed up on its website to become the first BBM users would be able to use the app on iPhone or Android devices.

As a tech writer, however, I received an advanced spot on the line to take BBM for a spin on my Android device or iPhone.

I had to enter my email address, and then I was asked to log in with my BlackBerry ID. Then, I ran into a glitch.

My phone displayed an error message that said “Service is temporarily unavailable.”

OK, so maybe it was my phone. I restarted the Galaxy S3. Still the same thing.

Then, I jumped into a WhatsApp to ask my friends if they got in, or if they were waiting. Some were waiting.

UPDATE Oct. 22 - BlackBerry worked on my account and now I'm in. 

The interface is quite similar to BBM on a BlackBerry phone, and so I found it was quite familiar to navigate around, add contacts and chat with one. 

But, to be honest, my BBM contact list is small. One of my friends even posted on Facebook that BBM seemed like a contact "graveyeard" - but that was changing.

Have you decided to use BBM for the first time – or again? What do you think of it?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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