BBM Channels, a new part of BlackBerry’s popular cross-platform mobile messaging app BBM, will be available later today on any handset running BlackBerry OS 5 and above.

The struggling smartphone maker is calling the release an open beta – it’s not quite ready for an official release, it would seem – and will be added as part of the latest app update available in BlackBerry World.

BBM Channels is a separate part of the app where you can follow and converse with your favorite brands and businesses. You can like, comment and share content posted by a BBM Channel, or enter a one-to-one private chat session with the owner or manager of the page. It’s also possible to subscribe to a BBM Channel and receive notifications when new content is uploaded.

BBM Channels has been available as a limited beta since May, shortly after the feature was announced alongside BBM for iOS and Android. It’s a similar concept to Plus Friend Home: A combination of both instant messaging and passive social network accounts which Korean-startup Kakao offers in Kakao Talk, its own cross-platform mobile messaging app.

A BlackBerry spokesperson said BBM Channels will be available from 8pm GMT/3pm ET/12pm PT. The feature will be added to the BBM iOS and Android apps “in the coming months.”

➤ BBM Channels