BBM for iOS: Hands on and first impressions!

Update: BlackBerry has pulled BBM for iOS from the App Store and halted the roll-out

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for iOS has begun rolling out across the globe, and while it will only hit the U.S. at midnight, as usual New Zealand got it first. Our own Richard Devine, whose had more than his fair share of BlackBerry devices, switched stores, loaded it up, and went hands on, and he's got his first impressions in the video above.

On the plus side, BBM literally wrote the book on mobile communications and they still do it better than anyone.

On the maybe pro/maybe con side, they've stuck with a very BlackBerry look and feel, which should make it immediately familiar to anyone who's known and loved in the past, but could be a bit of a barrier to people more familiar with iOS interface paradigms. Granted most mobile chat interfaces still suck, and iOS 7 has re-written a lot of Apple's own guidelines, so it's not as big an issue as it might otherwise be.

On the negative side, it looks like BBM for iOS didn't get setup to support iOS 7 interface elements, so you're getting things like the old, iOS 6 style keyboard. That should be easily fixed in an update. Expedited, hopefully.

It's also iPhone interface only right now, which means it'll only run letterboxed on iPad, but that's not a huge problem because it seems like BlackBerry ID is still limited to only one device. That probably won't affect most people, but will remain a pain point for geeks who want to switch devices and just have their stuff everywhere.

We'll be back with more coverage later, but for now, if BBM for iOS has already hit your local App Store, here's where to get it, and some helpful links to get you started:

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

BBM for iOS: Hands on and first impressions!


Wow, really? BlackBerry still doesn't get it. I want access to my conversations no matter what screen I am looking at at any given moment. I was going to give this a shot, but I guess I will just stick to iMessage

If this was 2008, I'd be pretty amped up about this. Now I guess, I'll download the app just to play around with it for a bit then delete it right after.

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Applied the same method Richard Devine employed, and upon opening the app it redirects to the website stating they are undergoing scheduled maintenance. Bad first impression!

Pathetic ! Poor blackberry they never learn anything. Thorn must be too busy to sell the company and grab the more money he can than managing his team to deliver proper product

Pretty sure it has been pulled out of the app store in Australia. Kept getting the message "the item you tried to buy is no longer available" and a few minutes later I couldn't even find it anymore. Good job blackberry!

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I think we're being a little too critical at this point. I'm actually a little excited to try it out. BBM was much better than WhatsApp, in my experience. If this is still the case and it is as secure as it is on BB, this is exactly what I've been waiting for.

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I got it loaded and it does look a little dated. Hopefully an update for iOS 7 will improve it. The big fail has been the inability for iOS users to message with BB10 users. I have been able to BBM other iOS users and users of older BB software versions. Trying to message with my brothers on Z10's has been a no go. I can send them messages, but they can't return them at this point. They better fix this fast, or all the hype will have been for nothing and just be another nail in their coffin.

Thanks for this bit of info. I have tearing my hair apart since Sunday. I could add 2 iOs users on BBM and 1 colleague on 9320. However my invitations to an OS10 user and an Android user , still show pending. My BBM badge on Iphone shows around 16 msgs, but when I open the app. there is nothing inside. Felt like doing a battery pull :-) .Seems like a lot of my messages are stuck/lost in cyberspace.

Might give it a go. Seems pretty average and inferior to iMessage what's app but I'll still give it a try. Not showing up in my App Store in UK yet. When's the imore app getting the iOS 7 treatment?

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Seems pretty amazing and superior to iMessage what's app ***.

No messaging app compares to BBM, by the company who literally wrote the book on mobile instant messaging.

gone mad for that, i still think bbm is the best messaging app out there. love it so much, love it more because its in my iphone!!!!

That link still not working for USA. So we have to wait until tomorrow or after midnight to get it

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You won't see it... seeing tweets from usually reliable sources that the app has been removed from stores in countries where it was available.

I don't have a need for this since id don't really know of anyone using bbm but just from the video my thoughts are, first, great if it's useful and someone wants it. That being said, the interface strikes me as a bit, i don't know, scattershot. As you said in the vid its not a "traditional iphone app." But hey if someone uses it good for them. Me i'll likely never use it as i just have no need for it. I'm fine with a text.

FolKs, seems I was luck on this who downloaded BBM and started working! :) i am loving it except the old school keyboard on my sexy iOS 7 enabled iPhone 5(black and slate) :D

One of the easy ways is write in a Bbm chat window "mypin" and once you press spaca bar it will appear the pin. Other way is press your photo and enter to your profile. At the bottom it will appear a qr code that said show bar code. Press it and a qr code will appear and your PIN number too

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I live in Puerto Rico and I use the tric of New Zealand and work so so. The problem was that once I installed the Bbm it's says the system is down. I tries and change the time zone of my phone and once I did this, I restarted the app and it lets me sing up. So now I'm using Bbm

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1. Convoluted UI by any standards...
2. You can only connect to BB devices with BBM 7.

I guess there's always WhatsApp...

I'm not sure what BBM version are on BB10... but I can't invite ppl with BBM v7 (older bold model). Belagio with BBM v7, connects fine.

To be accurate, if I sent them invites, they got it... accepts it,.. it said the invitation is pending... and I don't get any other notification. It just stays there. If they sent me invites, I see nothing... as if nothing has happened. Technically they can update, but apparently it has issues with devices with small RAM.

Not trying to burst anyones bubbles or anything but 'bbm' stands for BLACKBERRY messenger for people with blackberrys...