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BBM for iOS and Android getting free voice calls and location sharing in 2014

BlackBerry has announced that its BBM app for iOS and Android will receive voice call capabilities in the New Year.

In a blog post detailing what’s next from BBM, head of product management Sean Hungerford revealed some of the updates that will be coming to the iOS and Android versions of the app.

BBM Voice will offer “free voice calls to any BBM contact anywhere in the world” with no charges beyond your standard data rate. Yep, a bit like Skype, Google Voice, and every other VoIP service out there.

Meanwhile, BBM Channels will let iOS and Android users “join conversations happening with the BBM community beyond your contact list.” It’s a social feature that lets you set up your own channels based on a theme or thought, rather like an internet forum.

The iOS and Android versions of BBM will also gain faster sharing options, including one-touch voice notes, snappy photo sharing, and live location sharing.

Finally, the BBM app will gain a bunch of new emoticons, because you can never have too many gurning yellow expressions, we find. There’ll soon be 100 of the suckers, some of which have been created by BBM users. These include a “smiley-poo,” apparently.

BlackBerry is currently beta testing all of these new BBM app features for iOS and Android, as well as BlackBerry 10. It anticipates that this process will take “the next couple (of) months,” so expect a firm release date some time in the New Year.

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