BlackBerry invites testers to play with BBM for Android beta app

It looks like a few lucky users are getting the chance to try out BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) on their Android devices ahead of the programme's official cross-platform launch.

BlackBerry has started sending out invitations for a select number of users to test out a beta version of the instant messaging service for Android, the company has confirmed.

"The BBM beta for Android users is a very limited program that includes BlackBerry employees and some invited friends and family," a BlackBerry spokeswoman said. "We have not announced plans to expand this beta at this time."

At this point, the BBM beta for iOS is still in internal testing, she added.

If you're gutted that you weren't asked to participate in the beta test, don't fret, because the chat app's official release should be just around the corner anyway.

BlackBerry back in May announced it would make BBM available to iOS and Android users at some point this summer, subject to approval by the Apple App Store and Google Play.

When it eventually launches, BBM for iOS and Android will start with messaging and groups features, and will gain voice calling, screen sharing, and video calling later this year, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said at the BlackBerry Live conference. It will be available for devices running iOS 6 and Android 4.0 or higher.

Back in early June, word spread that BlackBerry was planning to launch BBM on iOS and Android on 27 June, but a spokeswoman for the company quickly shot down the rumour.

Because it's a BlackBerry exclusive, BBM has only 60 million active users at this point. It's dwarfed by Android/iOS competitors like WhatsApp and Viber, which measure their user bases in the hundreds of millions.

BBM users are highly engaged, however, sending and receiving more than 10 billion messages per day, according to Heins.