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New OS packs numerous improvements

What has Research in Motion, Ltd.'s (TSE:RIM) been cooking up these past few months?  Well, amid a leadership shakeup and a string of troubles that stewed much pessimism, RIM has managed to bake a major operating system update for its PlayBook tablet, which patches up many of the device's weaknesses.

A definite positive sign is that RIM appears to have been listening to the criticism, as its improvements largely line up with things that early reviews panned.  New features include:
  • A new unified email client, which compiles your messages from Facebook, Twitter, and your various email accounts
  • A new Calendar app with social network access
  • A new Contacts app that syncs its information with Facebook
  • BlackBerry Bridge, an app that turns your BlackBerry into a wireless keyboard for the PlayBook -- or which leverages the PlayBook to offer big screen reading for emails and content
  • An enhanced web browser
  • The first PlayBook-compatible Android app ports, via new additions to BlackBerry App World
  • Improved virtual keyboard
  • BlackBerry Balance to check data usage
  • Improved document editing
  • Print to Go app

RIM PlayBook OS 2.0
[Image Source: Engadget]

The build of the release is 2.0.0.7971, and it weighs in at 505 MB.

Early reviews of the PlayBook offered general praise for its form factor and hardware.  But they called the operating system unpolished.  With the new update perhaps the PlayBook can finally be considered a tablet to be contended with.

It's a bit late for RIM when it comes to both tablet and smartphone market share, but the fact that the company is responding to criticism proactively with improvements is a very good sign.  The company is still very profitable -- so like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) it has a fair amount of money to throw at reinvigorating its smartphone efforts.

In related news, RIM has also aired a new enterprise-aimed management tool called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion.  In a bit of a concession, the IT software not only supports BlackBerries, but also Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone and various Android smartphones.  Support for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 was not mentioned.




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