updated 12:05 pm EDT, Tue August 3, 2010
RIM promises BB 6 updates to older phones
RIM as part of the BlackBerry Torch launch provided details of the upgrade plan for BlackBerry 6. The new OS will reach the Bold 9700, the Bold 9650 and the Pearl 3G as well as future devices. A timetable hasn't been set, but it should reach devices in the "months ahead."
The Canadian phone maker unusually made no mention of upgrading either the Storm or the Storm2, leaving both phones out despite their touchscreens. RIM hasn't explained why, but their use of the now discarded SurePress click-down screen may prevent them from using BlackBerry 6 properly. A decision of the sort nonetheless cuts them off entirely, even as the Storm2 is less than a year old.
BlackBerry 6 is the first major overhaul to the interface in years and adds a multi-touch interface that adds Action Menus, or context-sensitive menus that show the most frequently used secondary tasks through a long press of the screen or the trackpad. Web browsing is now much faster and more accurate through the use of a WebKit engine, and it now has a unified social feed section that combines social formats like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter with AIM, BlackBerry Messenger, Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger into a single stream. SMS and MMS are now threaded to follow conversations.
Media has been improved dramatically with a new dedicated podcast app to subscribe to and play podcasts, an improved media player and a YouTube app. On Wi-Fi equipped models, BB6 can sync music from iTunes or Windows Media Player over the local network without having to connect to USB.
The OS ships with the Torch on August 12 and should give a significant boost to developers with a new Java SDK that should significantly streamline the company's historically difficult app development. Apart from supporting the new interface, they can now call on the WebKit browser and work with HTML5. Support has been deepened for location finding and maps.