updated 12:55 pm EDT, Mon July 12, 2010
BBerry OS 6 gets new demo as BBerry Protect debuts
RIM marked an eventful Monday by providing a new teaser for BlackBerry OS 6.0 (video below) and launching its own rough equivalent to Apple's Find My iPhone. The new demo avoids the marketing heavy spin of the first video and shows some of the core features by themselves, such as the multiple home screens, new multi-touch interface, and revamped media player. Among the more distinct details are a demo of an iChat-like BlackBerry Messenger client, RSS feed support in the new WebKit-based browser and universal search with a new keyboard design.
The OS is considered a major overhaul for RIM and, notably, is shown using a touch-only interface, suggesting that the Canadian company plans to focus on touchscreen phones early on. Most anticipate the BlackBery 9800 touchscreen slide to be the launch device and arrive in late summer.
RIM's other news today centers on BlackBerry Protect, its previously rumored safeguarding service. Like the MobileMe-based service launched for the iPhone, it can use a web-based portal to ring the phone remotely, display a message, lock the phone or wipe it entirely. If the BlackBerry has GPS support, it can also display the phone's rough location.
The RIM service primarily adds full wireless, incremental backups and can restore data entirely over the air if a user either recovers a wiped phone or has to get a new model. Protect backs up data on its own and can be limited to syncing only through Wi-Fi or only when on the carrier's own network to avoid roaming data fees.
Access to the service currently requires a Beta Zone membership and an app download. RIM hasn't said when it plans to exit beta or if the app would be standard on BlackBerries in the future. Costs for the finished service, if any, weren't mentioned.
Together, the introductions reflect a revived interest at RIM in its BlackBerry software. It remains the largest smartphone manufacturer selling to the US but has started to decline as the app-heavy and more touch-friendly Android has undermined its once secure footprints at Verizon and most other US carriers. Apple has also been narrowing the gap and could come much closer with its spring results following the launch of the iPhone 4.