BlackBerry today released a new version of BBM, adding timed messages, message retraction, and HD picture transfer, among other features. If you don’t see the update just yet, note that the company says it “may take 24 hours or more” for it to appear in your app store “depending on your mobile platform and region.”

First up, you now have a lot more control over your communications. Before you send messages and pictures, you can set how long your contacts have access to them in a chat. After you send messages and pictures, you can also “retract” them from your BBM chat.


BlackBerry is pushing these two additions as new privacy features that let users “take control over the messages and content that they share, so they can communicate with more discretion and freedom than ever before.”

The company first showed off the new additions to messages two weeks ago in a beta release; testers apparently have been giving “incredible” feedback, saying that controlling their messages adds “a whole new dynamic to BBM.”

Nevertheless, for both of these features, BlackBerry did offer an obvious warning to its users:

While these features are designed to remove the message or picture [from] the recipient’s BBM chat view, they do not prevent recipients from capturing an image of the content by taking a screenshot or using an image capture device. Retracting a message after it has been read by the recipient will remove the message from the BBM chat view but will not affect copies of the message that the recipient may have made prior to the message being retracted.

Privacy additions aside, BBM has received a new sticker picker that the company claims is faster for adding stickers to your chats, the ability to transfer HD pictures so you can send higher quality versions of your photos, and an option to see what music your contacts are listening to in BBM Feeds. None of these are as significant as the privacy additions, but they do round out this release as a major one.

Paid subscription

For some time now, BlackBerry has been talking about monetizing BBM. The company has started offering stickers, noting that many messaging applications, particularly in Asia, have successfully built new revenue streams by opening up a sticker shop for their users to peruse.

Today, BlackBerry revealed that it plans to offer a paid subscription for premium features. It didn’t share many details, but the company did say that timed messages and message retraction will be included in the package.

The features will be available for free and without restrictions over the next three months. In other words, we can expect a BBM subscription to arrive within the next quarter.

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