BlackBerry maker RIM officially announced BlackBerry 6 on Tuesday, alongside the company's unveiling of the BlackBerry Torch smartphone.
In fact, BlackBerry 6, RIM's newest operating system, will debut on the BlackBerry Torch. It will be available exclusively from AT&T starting August 12. In addition, BlackBerry 6 will also have backward compatibility for select BlackBerry smartphones, quite probably the BlackBerry Bold 9700, BlackBerry Bold 9650, and the BlackBerry Pearl 3G. Of course, the BlackBerry OS 6 upgrade to those devices and others will be subject to carrier certifications in the ensuing months. RIM has not named specific roll-out dates.
The system improvements and additions found in BlackBerry 6 are no secret, as RIM has been plentifully releasing "sneak peek" videos ever since RIM first announced the new version of its operating system at the WES conference last April.
RIM's official word on the matter is what we expected, with lots of goodies that so far look like a significant improvement to the current OS. CNET Senior Editor Bonnie Cha gives her first impressions here and in the slideshow below. Also stay tuned for her full BlackBerry Torch review.
Interface The interface has been refreshed for devices with touch screens or trackpads. The home screen lets users swipe a ribbon to filter applications and content by five categories (All, Favorites, Media, Downloads, and Frequent). You can also add shortcuts to contacts and favorite Web pages to the home screen. Action Menus, another addition, pop up common tasks when you press and hold with your finger or the trackpad. Multitasking has also gotten a makeover, with a visual grid of running applications popping up when you press and hold the Menu button.
We're most excited by the Universal Search bar on the home screen, which will simultaneously look for keyword matches to your search term in the phone memory, BlackBerry App World application storefront, and the Web.
WebKit browser RIM has received plenty of guff over the years for its laggy browsers. BlackBerry 6 changes this by picking up a variant of the WebKit standard that powers both the Apple iPhone and Google Android browsers. (In fact, the BlackBerry Torch is named in honor of Torch Mobile, the browser company RIM acquired a year ago for this purpose.) The new BlackBerry browser will support HTML5 standards, but there was no word on Flash support. We can look forward to browser tabs, text-wrapping, and pinch to zoom.
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