RIM previewed OS 6.0 on Monday. “BlackBerry 6,” as RIM prefers it to be called, is expected to arrive in the third quarter. Check out the video with the dancing suits below:
Predictably, the comments on Youtube were mixed and snarky. But for those of us who until 3 weeks ago were using a 4-year-old BlackBerry 8703e running OS 4.2, the user interface upgrades look ah-mazing.
OS 6.0 is not just about eye candy for Gen Yers, though. RIM announced a few things that ought to make your IT manager happy, too:
1) Older BlackBerries can be upgraded to OS 6.0. This includes both those with and those without touchscreens.
Seeing as how most IT budgets were approved last year during the throes of the recession, letting companies upgrade their ultra-durable BlackBerries without having to buy new ones should be good news for many an IT manager.
In practice, will that include relatively-antiquated models like my 8703e, which got noticeably sluggish after it was upgraded to OS 4.2? Probably not. But any phone running OS 5.0 today (think the Bold 2 or the Curve 2) probably will be upgradeable to OS 6.0. Even older phones like my brother’s 3-year-old 8830 World Edition running OS 4.5 may be eligible.
Good news: OS 6.0 will support older BlackBerries. Bad news: it might include that 2007-issued model you were hoping to swap for a sexier upgrade.
2. All-new web browser. BlackBerry OS’s built-in browser has long been a source of controversy, leading some users to seek alternatives such as Bolt or Opera Mini. OS 6.0′s browser, arriving via RIM’s acquisition of TorchMobile, should render pages more accurately and possibly faster. It also will support tabs, which is not new, and multi-touch, which is. Moreover…
3. WebKit rendering engine. Besides supporting the Web browser, the WebKit engine (upon which Apple’s Safari for Mac and iPhone and Google Chrome are also built) will be available for other apps to use, too. That’s good news for any enterprise application developer who’s struggled in the past with layout and rendering issues.
4. BlackBerry App World 2.0. RIM’s counterpart to the iPhone’s App Store will “fit a greater number of enterprise apps” in its catalog, reported CNET.
5. More meeting info in the calendar. According to screenshots and a report from BetaNews, this could include information about who’s invited to a meeting and where it is located that is synchronized with Microsoft Outlook.
Besides OS 6.0, BlackBerry separately announced the latest version 5.0 of its mobile voice system, or MVS. This turns your smartphone into a PBX-compatible corporate phone, giving IT control over it and letting users save on international and roaming charges since NVS can operate as VoIP over Wi-Fi networks, instead of the cellular network. Users may see little difference apart from not having to forward their work phone to their BlackBerry when traveling, but IT managers will appreciate the ability to set policies and support for 25 virtual private networks.
So which feature will make the most difference in your enterprise?