Blackberry Messenger 5.0 Review: Talk about new and improved!


If you’re reading this, chances are you are a fellow Berryhead. Well I’m going to give you some great news. Everyone’s favourite blackberry-exclusive chat program is about to get a serious upgrade, and I know, ’cause I SEEN IT.

Depending on how aware you are of your phone’s functions, you might know that all the newer Blackberrys are running on 4.7 software. Well recently, 5.0 software was leaked somewhere through a tiny crack in RIM headquarters, based in Waterloo, Ontario, and trickled its way onto my phone. After running the 5.0 Blackberry Messenger for a bit over a month now, I think im qualified to give you a decent review of what you can expect when it is OFFICIALLY released.

First thing you notice when you start up bbm 5.0 is that your conversations/friends list looks completely different. There is an avatar (picture) next to each persons name, as well as a little green dot (meaning that they’re available. It turns yellow or red depending on the status of the individual). There are two bars at the top of the page. A black bar showing your own information and picture, and also a new bar  that says “Recent Updates”. As the name implies…this is where your Recent Updates are (added contacts, status updates etc.) This is a pretty good feature but it gets annoying because the the updates don’t clear themselves automatically, you have to go in and clear them. This could be a bug with the leaked version. Here is a picture of your home screen.

                                                                                    Boy Genius Report
Boy Genius Report

Now onto the conversation window. The conversation window is pretty similar, with some updated fonts. The most noticeable difference is that each comment is put in a speech bubble, which looks pretty cool. It looks cleaner and more refined. There are a completely new set of emoticons, and although its always refreshing to get new emoticons, these ones are actually not as good as those on the current bbm 4.7. Again, perhaps because its an early beta. Here’s a pic of the convo window:

for the uncensored NSFW version of this pic, hit up my facebook ;)
for the uncensored NSFW version, hit up my facebook 😉

So those are the two screen you will see more than anything else. But the real upgrade are the new features that have been infused into BBM 5.0. First and most noticeable is the barcode system. If you haven’t heard about this system, then you should know it is probably the coolest new addition to bbm. Each phone has a unique barcode, and you can add someone to bbm by taking a picture of their barcode. No, seriously. Your camera automatically recognizes it and adds that person to your bbm list. No need for ridiculous PIN exchanges anymore. This could work well at a noisy club when you’re getting a girl’s phone number, or in a library, or at a funeral. It would also work well if you wanted to post your barcode on facebook or something like that and give free reign to your friends list  (of course, you could just post your PIN…but thats not very fun now is it?) . Here’s a pic.

no, I'm not going to add you so dont bother trying.
no, I'm not going to add you so dont bother trying.

Another awesome new feature is Location Sharing. Much like Google Latitude, you can give your friends permission to see where you are through your device’s GPS. Great way to keep tabs on your girlfriend, or your dope smokin kids, or the girl you plan on stalking asking out for a nice seafood dinner. Fortunately, they have put in the option to change permission for each person on your list, so you don’t have to display your whereabouts to that creepy friend that gets really angry when you avoid his calls. Otherwise he might come confront you wherever you may be. Here’s a pic of the new Contact Info Screen

Don't worry blakey, I blurred out your pin. It'll be ok
Don't worry blakey, I blurred out your pin. It'll be ok

The final thing I’ll show you is your Edit my Info page, and the biggest difference here is the “Show What I’m listening to” feature. As the name implies, and much like MSN, you can display the song you’re listening to on your blackberry to your friends. HOW EXCITING! Pic:

edit my info

So to wrap things up, I’ll fire off the menu features that I couldn’t get a screenshot of, but I won’t explain any of them because they’re self explanatory. If you need further verification as to what these things are, then jump off a bridge use google.

  • Broadcast Message (send mass msg to all your friends)
  • Group Chat
  • Backup/Restore Contact List
  • Copy/Email Chat History
  • Set Subject of Chat
  • Customizable Status’

Overall, I think there is nothing absolutely amazing about bbm 5.0, but they have done ALOT of work compared to prior bbm updates. The reason I’m not amazed is because alot of this stuff was long overdue, and felt like it should have been there in the first place. The barcode system, although somewhat pointless, is really really cool, the location sharing should be fun when you’re bored and the refreshingly colourful new conversation window is a welcome addition. I’m looking forward to getting the official release, because I could write another full post on the bugs that plague the leaked version. But you wouldn’t care. and I cant be bothered.


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