Blackberry promised us back at BBLive that we'd see BBM on Android and iOS devices before the end of the summer. Well, we've hit the dog days of August, and while most of those devices are still BBM-free, it appears a select few Androids are finally getting to beta test the app. Blackberry OS reports that email invites are rolling out now to folks registered with BlackBerry's Beta Zone to test out BBM. Other than registration, users simply need a handset running Android 4.0 and up and they'll be messaging across the great platform divide in no time. We've reached out to the good people at BlackBerry for comment on the matter, and will update this post when we hear back.
Update: We just got an official comment on the beta rollout, and it turns out the it had a limited number of slots, which have all been claimed:
BlackBerry has begun internal testing of BBM on Android and iOS devices. We invited our employees to nominate friends and family to participate in a limited Android beta. Those slots are now full. For more information, please visit www.blackberry.com/bbm.
Source: Blackberry OS
Thorsten Heins just broke what has to be the biggest news out of BBLive this morning: BBM is breaking out of its walled garden. Starting this summer, users running iOS 6 and Android ICS or higher will be able to download the BBM app for free and join in the messaging experience so highly curated by BlackBerry. Initially, however, only the messaging and group features will be accessible for outside users, but throughout the year, the company hopes to add BBM voice, BBM channels, screen sharing and video capabilities. You'll have to hold tight for a more specific launch date, as Heins didn't announce any concrete timing. But if you've waited for this news for years, what's a few more months?
Google's big shake-up of Android version metrics has already given us a better understanding of where the platform's active users truly stand. Now that we're a month into the new methodology, we have a good sense of where those users are going -- and they're moving to Jelly Bean in droves. Android 4.1 and 4.2 combined grew to represent 28.4 percent of regular usage, or enough to finally overtake Ice Cream Sandwich at 27.5 percent. Not surprisingly, the transition to the newer OS involved a balanced mix of users either upgrading from ICS (down by 1.8 percent) or transitioning from devices running Gingerbread or earlier (down 1.7 percent). It will be a long while before Jelly Bean becomes the dominant platform, if it ever does, but we're not expecting a slowdown in adoption when flagships like the Galaxy S 4 and One are luring many of us into an upgrade.
Source: Android Dashboard
Unofficial details of the Pantech Perception have been around for long enough for the phone to feel old, but the truth is that it's only just getting started. The 4.8-inch, mid-tier Android smartphone is at last launching with Verizon on April 25th, and it should cost $100 on contract after subscribers cash in a $50 rebate. It won't trigger much regret among Galaxy S 4 buyers when it's carrying a more GS3-like Super AMOLED 720p screen, 16GB of storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front shooter. That said, Pantech does promise an extra level of software savvy: the company's customized variant of Ice Cream Sandwich (soon to upgrade to Jelly Bean) centers on a Motion Sense suite that lets owners wave their hands to answer calls, switch tracks or navigate contacts and photo galleries. While we can't say we're bowled over by that claimed advantage, the Perception may just hit the sweet spot for those who want an alternative to HTC and Samsung for a bigger handset.
While Archos has long held dreams of expanding into smartphones, we've seen it run into its fair share of roadblocks along the way. Thanks in part to a sharpened corporate focus, that vision is at last becoming real with the company's first, honest-to-goodness smartphone range. The 35 Carbon, 50 Platinum and 53 Platinum all cater to the budget, carrier-independent crowd with common foundations of unlocked 7.2Mbps HSPA 3G, dual SIM slots (only one being 3G) and stock Android. We also see a rather skimpy 4GB of storage, although a microSD slot on each phone helps make up for the difference.
What you're mostly paying for is performance and screen size. The 35 Carbon ships with an HVGA 3.5-inch screen, a single-core 1GHz Snapdragon S1, 512MB of RAM, VGA cameras and Ice Cream Sandwich; move up to the 50 or 53 Platinum and you'll get their respective 5- and 5.3-inch qHD screens, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Play, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera and Jelly Bean. No, we're not bowled over by the performance any more than you are -- but the respective contract-free prices of $100, $220 and $250 may have at least some trying Archos' first effort, even if the company's late May launch will only include Europe at first.
US Cellular has had precious few truly low-cost smartphones running an Android build that wasn't baked in 2010. For those who'd like something a little fresher, the ZTE Director is here. While it's only slightly ahead of the trailing edge with stock Ice Cream Sandwich, that's an improvement on a category where Gingerbread still rules. Likewise, no one will be floored by the 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 3.5-inch 480 x 320 screen, 4GB of storage (plus microSD slot) and 3-megapixel rear camera, although the 1,500mAh battery is ample for the size. We imagine that customers will mostly be enamored by the price -- when the Director costs a penny on contract and $200 contract-free, it may bring in those who'd have held on to that basic flip phone for a little while longer.
Source: US Cellular
Got a relatively recent version of Android on your smartphone? Good, because today, Google's giving Jelly Bean users another reason to be happy. In the company's latest update to Gmail, users will now find the ability to archive, delete and reply to incoming mail directly from the notifications drawer -- a small improvement, but we'll gladly take it. What's more, users of Ice Cream Sandwich and above will benefit from faster searches (online and off), along with a few performance improvements and bug fixes, too. So, time to tap that update button, eh?
Source: Official Gmail Blog