BlackBerry today announced the launch dates for BBM for Android and BBM for iOS: September 21 and September 22, respectively. Previously an exclusive to BlackBerry smartphones, BBM will be available as a free download in Google Play and Apple’s App Store this weekend.

The timing here is of course pitiful. When Android and iOS became the dominant forces in mobile, BlackBerry had two choices: maintain BBM as an exclusive and find another killer feature for its smartphones, or bring BBM over to its two competing platforms and hope it will convince some users to switch back.

Neither is a particularly great choice, but if you’re going to go with the latter, you have to do it quickly. At this point in time, there are tons of BBM alternatives on all the mobile platforms, from Facebook Messenger to WeChat, and the big ones are all already more popular than BlackBerry’s offering.

Here’s what you can expect with BBM for Android and BBM for iOS:

  • BBM Chat – Immediate conversations across Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry smartphones. Not only does BBM let you know that your message has been delivered and read, it also shows you when your friend is responding to the message.
  • More than chat – With BBM you can share files on your phone such as photos and voice notes.
  • Keep your group in the loop – Multi-person chats are a great way to invite contacts to chat together. BBM Groups lets you invite up to 30 friends to chat together, and go a step further than multi-chat by sharing photos and schedules. And, with Broadcast Message, you can send a message out to all your BBM contacts at once.
  • Post Updates and stay in the know – BBM lets you post a personal message, profile picture and your current status, and lets your contacts know instantly in Updates.
  • Your unique PIN – Every BBM user has a unique PIN that maintains your privacy, so you don’t have to give out your phone number or email address to a new or casual contact.

There’s little in there that would have anyone switch from their current communication app to BBM. Still, BlackBerry has to try something.

Top Image Credit: Abdulaziz Almansour