In a pleasant surprise RIM has more in store for us with a new BlackBerry Messenger beta round in the Beta Zone. They have just uploaded BlackBerry Messenger v6.1 to the Beta Zone and it includes some real nice usability updates.
Animated avatars – Now you can access a selection of animated GIFs that come alive when you hover over the avatar. Three animated avatars are available as part of the beta as a sneak peak (including a ‘smile’, ‘laughter’ and ‘in love’) – with a greater selection to come at launch. You can access avatars when changing your display picture within the Avatars folder and can source your own animated GIFs NOTE: Animated avatars are supported on BlackBerry® OS 5.0 and higher and can be viewed on BBM 6.1
12 new emoticons – Add to the range of expressions available to enhance your conversations with12 new emoticons to choose from.
Personal Message size increased to 160 characters – We’ve doubled the size of the personal message space to 160 characters. The previous limit was 80 characters.
Colored chat bubbles – Customize the color of chat bubbles with 10 colors to choose from. You can pre-assign these colors to your contacts by simply going into your BBM contacts’ profile and selecting the desired contact chat color from the palette.
Camera / Avatar Integration – Now you can update your BBM avatar right from the BlackBerry camera app by selecting “Set as BBM Display Picture” from the menu options.
You can pick up the new BlackBerry Messenger 6.1 in the Beta Zone or read more about it in RIM’s announcement.