BlackBerry announced in late April that it would be rolling out BBM’s video calling feature to users on Android and iOS. Since then, the company has gone ahead to make it possible for users in several countries to be able to make calls using its popular messaging service.
Users of BlackBerry Messenger in the US and Canada were the first to get the ability to make calls albeit in beta in early May. 26 Latin American countries followed on June 1st and 7 days later, BlackBerry made it possible for BBM users in 17 Middle East countries to make calls across all major mobile platforms. Starting two days ago (June 14th), BBM users in 109 countries in Africa and Europe are now able to do the same as well.
In order for users to be able to chat via video on BBM, they need to be using a device with an Android version not older than version 4.4 (KitKat) and iOS 8 and above on Apple’s platform. Since the video calling feature is enabled through a server-side update, users need not do anything, it will just show up, no need to update the app on the store.
The feature will be available globally to everyone starting July.
BlackBerry’s late attempts to open up its core service, BBM, to competing platforms was informed by the company’s dwindling fortunes in mobile and the rise of competing services. Facebook’s Messenger platform has video calling as one of the main features across all platforms while Apple users have had FaceTime all along. Even though BlackBerry rolled out BBM to iOS and Android back in 2013, video calling had only been available to BlackBerry 10 users. Borrowing a leaf from competitor’s services and keen to stay relevant, the company is partnering with various companies to provide mobile money services inside BBM in a few markets where it is still popular.