BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) released BBM 2.0 for Android and iPhone on Thursday, which will allow users to make voice calls over Wi-Fi or data connections. BBM Voice allows users to make international calls for free, without incurring charges from a wireless provider other than for a minimal amount of data usage.
BBM for Android and iPhone also has been updated to include BBM Channels, a group chat and social network that allows users to discuss certain products, hobbies and other topics. BBM Channels will also include a sponsored feature to allow advertisers to reach users.
BlackBerry also added location sharing to BBM 2.0, powered by Glympse. The service allows users to share their location with others in real time, and limit that information with a timer. Once the timer expires, a user’s location becomes private again. Location sharing can be used to show a BBM user’s location en route to a meeting, or help a friend meet up at a restaurant.
BBM for Android also adds Dropbox integration to the mix, allowing users to share files with a single click, as well as 100 new emoticons. The update is now available on the Google Play Store and in the iOS App Store.
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BlackBerry announced that 20 million users downloaded BBM for Android and iPhone in the first couple weeks following the service’s troubled launch, reaching 80 million active users by the end of the year. The company has pushed services like BBM for Android and iPhone as its market share falls along with sales of BlackBerry handsets.
BlackBerry phones have dwindled in popularity in Europe and North America, although they remain popular in South Africa and Indonesia. Viber, a similar instant messaging product that works cross-platform with Android, iPhone, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, said last year that it had more than 200 million downloads, but refuses to announce how many users remain active on the service. WhatsApp, another competitor, said in January that the service has more than 430 million active users.
Follow Reporter Thomas Halleck on Twitter @tommylikey