BBM for Android was the subject of numerous leaks and rumors and more recently, an aborted launch attempt. Looking back, BlackBerry was supposed to launch BBM for Android on September 21. The app never arrived, and what was later blamed on an APK leak, the release was officially put on hold. BlackBerry did confirm they were still committed to launching on Android, however talk of the launch seemed to have gone quite.
Launch troubles aside, BBM has launched for Android (and iOS) today, though while available for download, not everyone is going to be able to begin messaging just yet. In fact, after downloading and launching the app you will be greeted with the image sitting above. Essentially, a placeholder. This allows you to enter your email address and begin waiting … again. On a positive note, while this app release doesn't mean immediate access for everyone, it is refreshing to see BlackBerry took the steps necessary to make this launch happen.
Once you begin playing with the app you will be given a walkthrough letting you know the basics. For example, tapping the top banner will allow you to view a profile and the navigation menu access and other actions can be accessed from the bottom. New BBM users will also get the "you have no contacts" message, but worry not as there are more than a handful of ways to invite others. A tap of that "invite to BBM" button will provide options including by PIN, email, SMS, NFC and also by scanning a barcode.
That being said, the app is what we had been expecting -- it allows you to chat. The interface is solid, and navigation is easy. But in the end this is another messaging platform. As you can see in the three image gallery below, you have the ability to chat using the keyboard and by voice. Plus, there are plenty of available emoji.
A trip into the settings will reveal some key items, including one that take away the persistent notification. By default, BBM for Android keeps the notification icon in the upper left corner and it is also seen in the dropdown notification shade (as you see below). You can turn that off by heading to the Connected Icon option. Needless to say, icon or not, the BBM app stays up and running in the background.
Other setting options touch on notifications such as which color the LED should be and whether or not the app should vibrate. There are also options to show the date and time, music status updates and whether or not to save your chat history. BBM for Android also offers options to choose how you want your contacts displayed and more.
The real question at this point is who will be using BBM. We suppose there will be plenty of installations, but we are going to be more curious in terms of long term usage. In other words, how many of those initial downloads will be left unused or later deleted. Anyway, given the previous history with the fake BBM apps, we suppose a link to the Play Store is the safest method. So that said, BBM for Android is available using this Play Store link.