RIM has officially announced.....no not the new BlackBerry 7 handsets that we're all waiting for - but BlackBerry Messenger 6, or BBM 6 as the kool kids call it.

BBM 6 is the result of the BlackBerry Messenger Social Platform that went live to developers back in March, giving them the opportunity to integrate the popular communication platform into their apps.

And, given that Apple is due to include its own brand-specific messaging service, iMessage, in its next mobile platform iOS 5 - the timing for RIM to improve what is already a massively successful service is spot-on.

BBM 6 brings BBM connected apps which offer access to the platform without ever leaving an app. For example, it may allow you to chat during a game app, making gaming a more social experience. BBM 6 also adds new app recommendation functions.

"BBM 6 marks the beginning of an even greater social experience for BlackBerry smartphone users," said Alistair Mitchell, VP, BBM Platform & Integrated Services at RIM.

"It also represents an incredible opportunity for developers to leverage the viral nature of the BBM service and we have already begun working with various developer partners who will be bringing their BBM connected apps to BlackBerry App World this week, offering users highly engaging app experiences."

BBM 6 is available now at www.blackberry.com/blackberrymessenger. A selection of BBM connected apps will also be posted on BlackBerry App World this week.