BBM for Android and iPhone will add free voice calling in 2014

BlackBerry has announced updates to its BBM for iPhone and Android apps that will be released in 2014.

Namely, BBM will gain free voice calling to any BBM contact worldwide with no long distance fees. This will bring BBM up-to-par with other messaging solutions on the market including Skype, WhatsApp's voice messaging, Google Voice calling in Hangouts, and more.

Read: Hands-on: BBM for iPhone review

Other notable additions in updates include the introduction of Channels, BBM's chat room feature, to the Android and iPhone apps. Channels aims at catering to people's specific interests and letting them chat about it. For example a specific chatroom about Apple or Google could create quite the fun conversation among fans.

Lastly, photos, voice notes, location sharing, and new set of emoticons will be added to the app.

"We’re beta testing these features now for release on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry 10 in the next couple months so stay sharp, they’ll be here before you know it," BlackBerry wrote on its blog.

BlackBerry chairman John Chen said cross-platform messaging is one of BlackBerry's four focuses going forward, in a letter to customers in November. BBM was highlighted as being a crucial asset to the company's portfolio, and Android and iOS logos were even featured at the top of Chen's letter.