BlackBerry Messenger 5.0: Get friends with bar codes

The BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 app upgrade released Wednesday adds a number of new features, from group messaging to capturing contacts through a bar code.

BlackBerry Messenger 5.0
BlackBerry Messenger 5.0, now with mug shots. (Credit: BlackBerry (RIM))

The mobile carriers have in-network calling, and BlackBerry users have BlackBerry Messenger, a BlackBerry-to-BlackBerry instant messenger that works more like e-mail than SMS to send real-time messages through RIM's servers. On Wednesday, RIM released BlackBerry Messenger 5.0, a version that pads the messenger with "avatars" (but they're more like your standard social networking mug shots), group chat, and photo sharing.

In addition to sending photos to contacts, BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 now opens the gates for transferring large files--up to 6MB in size. That's the equivalent of several photos, or one or two songs--maybe a very short video.

RIM also adds a new way to find friends. Users have been able to connect with a PIN, e-mail address, or name. Now they can lock onto each other with bar codes and cameras. One BlackBerry produces a bar code and the other snaps a photo that Messenger 5.0 can read and translate. It may not be as flashy as the Bump app for iPhone, but we'll take it.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.