BlackBerry drops fee for self-destructing BBM messages and other privacy features

BlackBerry has done a U-turn on two privacy features it originally wanted BBM users to pay for.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

BlackBerry retracts the subscription fee required for Retract and Timer in BBM.


Users of BackBerry's BBM messaging service will now get additional privacy and message control features without having to pay a $1 monthly subscription fee.

BlackBerry has dropped the fee it required to access the privacy features Retract, which allows users to recall sent messages, and Timer, allowing users to control how long a message or picture is available on a contact's device.

Blackberry released the privacy enhancing tools in 2014 as an initially free trial in the BBM app.

The trial expired after three months and after that it became a subscription option. To access them users needed to visit the BBM Shop in the BBM app and agree to pay 99 cents per month. Though charging users was always the plan, it wasn't welcomed by BBM fans.

The two features will be available for free on iOS, Android and Blackberry 10 as of today via an update scheduled for the next 24 hours. BlackBerry is however still selling subscriptions for BBM Sticker Club, an ad free experience, and Custom PIN.

BlackBerry is also introducing a number of new features for its Android, iOS and BlackBerry 10 BBM apps, including new support for Android 6.0.

The app on all platforms is now capable of forwarding messages from one chat to another. Android users will have the option to mute notifications for a multi-person chat, as well as scrolling through shared pictures.

The BBM app on iOS gets a redesigned chat screen and the ability to capture and share larger videos.

On BlackBerry 10, BBM will be able to retract and edit messages in group chats, as well as retract all sent messages once a chat is ended.

BlackBerry's prospects for a revival in smartphone hardware aren't looking that good following its fiscal fourth quarter during which it sold 600,000 handsets, well below analysts' expectations.

The company hasn't revealed how many of its Android Priv phones have been sold to date.

As for BlackBerry 10, Facebook last month killed its native Blackberry app, forcing users to resort to the Facebook web app. Meanwhile Facebook's messaging firm, WhatsApp, which also recently ditched its $1 subscription fee, plans to drop support for BlackBerry by the end of 2016.

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