BlackBerry Messenger 6.1 to introduce animated avatars

RIM has just launched a new beta for their signature BlackBerry Messenger app. The biggest feature in BBM 6.1 is support for animated .GIF files as profile pictures. Sounds obnoxious? You betcha. Thankfully, they only come to life when you hover over them, unlike the jolly fellow to the left who will ROFL until the end of time, or you explode with rage and punch your display. BBM will include some preloaded animations, including “in love”, “smile”, and “laughter”, but you’ll be able to load up your own too. On top of that, BBM 6.1 will have 12 new emoticons, double character limit for status messages, coloured chat bubbles on a per-contact basis, and the ability to set avatar images directly from the native camera application.

These are some pretty minor additions when compared to the big leap to 5.0 which included support for groups, or the recent addition of hooks for outside apps to interact with BBM, but it’s good to see a few new features, however superficial. I still find it hard to invest too heavily on a chat platform that depends on my friends owning BlackBerry handsets, but if it’s a common sight within your immediate circle, then it’s probably a good choice for you.

To give  BBM 6.1 a shot, head on over to the BlackBerry Beta Zone.

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