Apparently, BBM lies

BlackBerry Messenger is now a multiplatform messaging service. However, it has some distinct limitation that I would have never known about had I not been able to actually use it on my own phone. By design your history is not saved on BlackBerry servers for what I assume are security reasons. Also, you cannot be logged on to multiple devices at once. This is important because the way BlackBerry Messenger was designed it would be too hard to be able to see which devices it has been delivered to and if it has been read.

It could have been designed differently, but these are the choices BBM made with their particular goals in mind. There are other ways to have read receipts on messages. (Delivered can get complicated.)

However, I was in a situation this week that highlighted problems with this design and shortcuts BBM developers took. I sent a message to a friend on Monday. He got it on his phone, but apparently didn’t use his phone on Monday. He bought a new phone on Wednesday and logged in with BBM. I sent him a message about the new phone and he responded. I also noticed that my messages from Monday were marked as read. I knew that messages don’t transfer between phones: If I’m on Hangouts I can see my whole message history (unless you turn off the feature or set a conversation to off the record), if I’m in ChatOn it can load any messages in the last two weeks. But BBM acts as though it clears the messages from its servers and will not send older messages to your new phone. So I asked if he had actually gotten those messages.

He had not. The messages were lost. Yet, they were marked as read because he had seen the most recent message and my BBM phone assumed that all the messages before the last one had been read by my friend. I find this to be appalling. I thought BBM was better engineered than that. Is it possible this is only a shortcut on Android phones? Maybe. But it’s pretty damning, I think.

Since I consider read receipts to be one of the most important features of BBM I feel rather betrayed by the fact that it is missing. Also, I find the Android up fast, but complicated. I would also rate it higher if it was using the Android interface guidelines rather than BlackBerry 10 or whatever design guide they used for the app.