BBM has been updated to include new functionality that will subsequently be offered as part of a subscription package, as BlackBerry looks to generate cash from its popular messaging service.
The update includes new tools to enable users to communicate with more privacy by allowing them to have better control over the content they share.
But two new additions – Timed Messages and Message Retraction – are described as “premium features that will be available free and without restriction over the next three months”, after which they will become “part of a broader bundle of features that will be offered as part of a BBM subscription”.
Timed Messages puts a time limit on how long contacts have access to messages and photos shared within a chat. Similarly, message retraction enables users to remove a message from a BBM chat.
The company stressed that these functions do not stop recipients making copies of messages or images that cannot be deleted by the app.
Other new features include more rapid selection of stickers for messages; HD Picture Transfer, which makes it easier to obtain high quality versions of picture received via BBM; and Discover Music, which informs users about what music contacts are listening to in BBM Feeds.
BlackBerry is trying to expand the use of BBM and to make it into a service that will generate revenue for the ailing device vendor.
The app was introduced in beta form for Windows Phone in July, after successfully introducing it to iOS and Android just over a year ago.
Support was also added for older Android devices in order to address customers using old versions of the platform – for example low cost devices in emerging markets.
In June, it launched the first product as part of its eBBM Suite that will provide messaging services optimised for enterprise use.
BBM Protected provides improved security for messages sent between BlackBerry smartphones, which it claims makes BBM the “most secure mobile instant messaging experience in the industry”.
Other services will be added to the eBBM Suite over time, with the aim of enabling mobile workers to be more productive. BlackBerry is aiming to use a subscription model for eBBM.
Features like BBM Channels have also been highlighted as providing it with future monetisation options.