BBM for iPhone, Android Update Includes iPad Support, Battery Fix

Updated BlackBerry BBM for Android and iPhone apps began rolling out Nov. 14, adding iPad and iPod support, among other features. 

BlackBerry has begun rolling out updates to its BBM apps for Android and iPhone. The updates will include new features, as well as fixes to discovered issues. One early complaint was that the app was causing phones to become overly warm and draining their batteries.

In October, following delays, the struggling phone maker made its most popular application available to users of its rivals' devices. In the first week of its release, the app was downloaded by more than 20 million users, BlackBerry announced Oct. 29.

"The power of BBM has always been the active, real conversations and interaction that our customers enjoy," Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of BBM, said in a statement. "From here on out, we will focus on active users of BBM and will no longer focus on simple download numbers."

To that end, BlackBerry announced Nov. 14 that updates were rolling out, and the new apps were headed for the Apple App Store and Google Play.

For Android users, v.1.0.2 includes the following:

—a fix to an issue that was draining users' batteries;

—BBM Contact Categories, which help users organize their contacts by putting them into categories;

—list sorting and filtering options, to help users organize shared lists with BBM Groups;

—a Tell Your Friends feature that helps users connect with more friends;

—a Share Your Pin feature, enabling users to share their PINs to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks; and

—other bug fixes and performance improvements.

BBM for iPhone users headed into v1.0.4 can expect:

—support for iPad and iPod;

—fixes to an issue in which some users were missing BBM Contact names;

—fixes for issues experienced by those using right-to-left languages;

—the ability to invite friends via email to join BBM Groups;

—Share Your Pin, for sharing on social networks; and

—other bug fixes and performance improvements.

Fake Reviews Mar BBM Success

BlackBerry's delight in the strong response to BBM for Android and iPhone was marred a bit by reports that fake reviews were sullying the ratings. In particular, one review, in poorly written English, appeared over and over again under different user names.

"We have no knowledge of how these reviews were created or populated. We do not approve of or condone such activities," BlackBerry said in a statement. "There are also many genuinely great and useful reviews from our new BBM user on Google Play."

Android fan site Phandroid inspected the comments and wrote a bit of JavaScript that Raveesh Bhalia says he inserted into the Chrome browser's inspector, to help him find reviews that included the words "user friendly," "smooth, and "thank you BlackBerry" or "thanks BlackBerry."

The story was picked up by other sites before Bhalia could perfect his script, he reported Oct. 26. He estimated that 40 percent of BBM's five-star reviews—there were more than 60,000 at the time—were "questionable."

Bhalia also reported that he received spam offering "20 or more 5 Star Ratings delivered in less than 5 days for just $69." The email continued, "My friends will write reviews and we will also share it with Google+ so your app page will look good."

It's possible that someone, maybe a BlackBerry reseller, accepted such an offer on a larger scale.

Not blaming BlackBerry, Bhalia lamented that phony reviews hurt indie developers, "who might shy away from future projects," ultimately hurting the ecosystem. He also added that, while it's hard to know what users' true rating of BBM is, "I believe they would have done a decent enough job to be called a success."