BlackBerry has announced via its blog that Beta users of its instant messaging service, BBM for Android and iOS, are finally getting video calling. The new feature will first roll out to users in the US and Canada first, with the global release to come in July sometime.
BlackBerry has said that it is thrilled to finally bring video to BBM, with Android users the first to see the update tonight, with iOS users on iPhone and iPad getting it from tomorrow.
The Beta feature will allow users of BBM to enjoy cross-platform video calling with each other. This initial release is so that Blackberry can monitor the usage between users in the US and Canada, gather feedback, and iron out any kinks that may arise before they roll this feature out globally in July.
There’s no sign-up or approval required to use the new video calling feature and that if you’re one of the lucky users to take part in this beta testing, when you tap the icon to initiate a call with one of your BBM contacts, BBM will ask whether you want to make a voice call or try a video call with the beta feature (provided your contact is also eligible to participate).
To participate in the trial, you will need either an Android device running Android 4.4 (KitKat) and higher or iOS 8 and higher.
The move by the company to bring this feature comes as a recent Pew Research study shows that in the U.S, the number of adults making video calls from their smartphones rose from 33% in 2013 to 47% in 2015. The launch of the feature comes as businesses , Blackberry’s bread and butter, and more importantly employers are realising that mobile video conferencing is now a reality.
Globally, mobile bandwidth is increasing with the rollout of 4G networks, and with devices long since having adopted great cameras, as well as running the right software and having the power that make it possible, video calling will expand. Sure, there are some scenarios where good, old-fashioned voice is the better solution. But increasingly, video is taking over as our number 1 communication technology.
As stated this feature isn’t available to us here in Australia or New Zealand, but the company has guaranteed that video messaging and conferencing will be made available to the global market including Australia from July.