Monday, October 21, 2013

[App Review] Blackberry Messenger

After much wait, leaked APKs, and a cancelled launch, Blackberry Messenger is available once again for Android.While the UI leaves something to be desired (the app requires Android 4.0 and above but follows very little of the guidelines), performance is smooth and snappy. New users can setup a new account straight from the app with an e-mail confirmation to any e-mail of choice for verification.

At setup, all users get a unique pin number for personal identification which is tied to their e-mail address. Don't worry if you don't write it down as clicking on your name allows you to view and copy it if you want to send it to anyone else. Users can also change their nickname and choose their own personal image or stock picture to be identified with. This makes it easy if the service is to be used instead of regular chatting with friends and family.The app does keep a persistent notification to send and receive messages but can be disabled should the user choose to do so. Standard features for a messaging app are all present like custom notification sounds, enabling/disabling vibration, saving chats, and a grid or list layout for contacts. Users can start individual or group messages as well that suits their needs.

General use is quite easy. The left menu button allows switching to updates, contacts, etc. with buttons on the bottom of the app for quick access to current individual and group chats. The overflow menu on the right has access to settings, inviting people to BBM, and starting new chats.

Overall, the app is done pretty well though the UI could use a bit of cleaning up. The Android 4.0+ guidelines may help as sticking menu options in one area in the sliding notification area may work better going forward. For regular use, the Blackberry name, while not generating revenues in the traditional sense still has a trusted infrastructure to provide cross platform messaging for more users where others may be falling short.

(Edit: Over extended use, the app does seem to use a lot of resources as it seems to continue to run regardless of internet connection to ensure a more immediate connection when one is available. This may affect older devices a bit more but may affect overall performance for most devices as it is still running constantly. Disabling the notification icon helps a bit but only marginally well.)

I still dorecommend checking out this app for your messaging needs if you want a decent messaging system and are concerned about security. Reviewing the app permissions show only what is currently needed for the app so privacy should not be of concern at the moment.