Two months ago, a leaked copy of RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger 6.0 came to our attention, letting BlackBerry owners get a head-start on using the next generation of the popular IM client. While a final release isn’t quite ready yet, now you can get access to BBM through an official channel, as RIM has added BlackBerry Messenger 6.0 to its BlackBerry Beta Zone.
February’s leaked version was BBM 126.96.36.199; this public beta reflects a more recent build, now at version 188.8.131.52.
Many of the changes in BBM 6.0 show up in the app’s UI, with design decisions made to reflect the look-and-feel of BlackBerry OS 6. You’ll also find more visual cues to help you identify certain types of messages at a glance. While RIM doesn’t claim to have made the app any faster, it does note that it now behaves in such a way as to at least feel less laggy while you’re interacting with it.
Several new features borrow from RIM’s BlackBerry SMS implementation, letting you search for locations to include in your messages, automatically detect and insert your current location, and send requests for meetings. You’ll also find support for in-game messaging, opening up new avenues for trash-talking your opponents.
In order to get the beta, you’ll need to be a Beta Zone member, but as registration is free, go ahead and sign on up. BlackBerry Messenger 6.0 should support any BlackBerry smartphone running BBOS 6.