CES 2012: RIM updates BlackBerry PlayBook

playbook-blackberr_1921512b The new BlackBerry PlayBook operating system will allow it to recieve email without being connected to a BlackBerry smartphone. The lack of built-in support for email has been one of the main criticisms that have dogged the iPad rival since it was introduced last year.

RIM also said a new operating system for its smartphone, version 7.1, would be available from today.

Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said at CES 2012 that "with BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 we are building on this strong foundation, as well as leveraging our strengths in communications, social integration and productivity, to allow people to use their BlackBerry PlayBook in new ways throughout the day."

The update will add native email to the PlayBook and will finally remove the need to tether the device to a BlackBerry phone.

A new unified inbox will allow users to mix work and personal email accounts, while multi-tasking will let users have multiple email messages open, either in plain or rich text.

Like Microsoft's Windows Phone, RIM will also integrate social networking calendars and contacts. It will now also allow a BlackBerry handset to act as a remote control, for instance movies streamed from a PlayBook to a TV, or as a keyboard for the PlayBook.

RIM said it is also updating corporate and Office features, as well as improving the App World and its US Video Store and introducing a new 'reader' web browsing mode that shows just the text on a web page.

Blog Techcrunch wrote that the update provided "everything and more that the PlayBook was previously missing. Had the so-called BlackBerry tablet launched with the proper email support, it might not be on a fire sale right now".

BlackBerry OS 7.1 will add sharing via NFC as well as the ability to turn a phone into a portable wifi hotspot. BlackBerry Traffic and Travel apps will also be updated, while users with a BlackBerry Curve 9360 or 9380 smartphone will now be able to use the already built-in but previously inactive FM radio.


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