Android smartwatch owners will soon have to go no further than their own wrists to conduct BBM chats.
BBM, formerly known as BlackBerry Messenger, is headed to Android Wear smartwatches, announced the company during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) conference in Las Vegas this week. The news comes just weeks after the company's CEO John Chen unveiled the BlackBerry Classic, a modern smartphone that echoes its past as a mobile e-mail must-have.
Now the company is looking ahead by targeting one of the biggest new technology trends: wearables.
"BlackBerry is committed to listening to our customers and integrating new features and partners to improve the BBM Chat experience," said Herman Li, senior vice president of BBM Engineering and Product Management for BlackBerry. "The integration of BBM to support wearable technology is just one way we’re expanding the capabilities of our portfolio and delivering exciting options for customers to easily access BlackBerry’s cross-platform technologies."
BBM for Android Wear smartphones will display incoming BBM messages and enable users to cycle through messages or dismiss notifications with a swipe. The app leverages Google Now's voice control features for hands-free responses. Alternately, users can reply with a selection of pre-defined messages. Lastly, users can accept BBM invites directly from the watch while keeping their smartphones stowed.
BlackBerry is clearly focused on hands-free operation, revealed Jesse Ariss, product marketing manager for BBM, in a company blog post.
"With BBM for Android Wear, we've taken some of the most common BBM activities out of your pocket and onto your wrist. If you often hear the BBM notification when your hands are full you're going to love this," he wrote.
The company has yet to pin down the offering's exact availability, but Ariss indicated that it will arrive soon. And more products are on the way, he hinted.
"BBM for Android Wear is only our first step to support cross-platform wearable technology," stated Ariss.
The company also assured that the app "will be supported by a wide variety of watches that support Android Wear, available from a range of manufacturers," in a statement. "With BBM installed on an Android smartphone, BBM for Android Wear features will become available on the watch automatically."
With BBM for Android Wear, BlackBerry joins a growing number of tech companies that are branching out into the wearable device space.
In June, cloud business software provider Salesforce announced a wearable app developer initiative, called simply, Salesforce Wear. In November, German business software giant SAP and Samsung partnered in an effort to help bring the former's applications and big data cloud services to the latter's growing portfolio of wearable devices.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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