BlackBerry has rolled out video calling capabilities for BBM on Android to users in the U.S. and Canada. The rollout is part of a beta test and may not be available on all compatible handsets yet, but BlackBerry will be making it available to all soon.
“Please note we’re initially limiting availability because this is the first time we’re launching BBM Video calling,” BlackBerry explains. “We want to monitor performance, gather feedback, and iron out any kinks that may arise before we roll it out globally.”
You don’t need to sign up or gain approval to access BBM Video; you’ll just see the video calling option when you tap a contact in BBM to initiate a call. However, you will need to be running Android 4.4 KitKat or above on your device.
BlackBerry will also be making the beta available to iOS users soon, and at that time, it will be possible to take part in cross-platform video calls. Providing the test goes well and there are no major hiccups, BlackBerry will be releasing the feature globally in July.
BlackBerry says that it added video calling as a result of its rise in popularity. A recent Pew Research study found that in the U.S., the number of adults that make video calls rose from 33 percent in 2014 to 47 percent in 2015.
“Video is the closest thing to being physically present,” BlackBerry adds. “We know why that’s more important for personal calls—bridging the distance with our loved ones, like helping grandparents see their grandkids grow.”
Will you be using BBM Video on your smartphone?