RIM Showcases New BlackBerry 7.1 OS at CES 2012

By Adam Zeis on 9 Jan 2012 09:17 am EST

BlackBerry OS 7.1

RIM has announced that BlackBerry OS 7.1 will begin rolling out for devices starting today and over the coming weeks. While we've alreday seen OS 7.1 arrive on Sprint and Verizon (as well as leak for some devices), many users who don't yet have it will certainly be anxious to get their hands on an official version. The new software will include BlackBerry Tag in addition to other new features. Also on the way are updates to BBM, BlackBerry Traffic and BlackBerry Travel.

Press Release

RIM Showcases New BlackBerry 7.1 OS at CES 2012

New BBM, BlackBerry Traffic and BlackBerry Travel Updates Also Released

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA--(Marketwire - January 09, 2012) - (CES 2012) - A wide range of software improvements await BlackBerry® 7 smartphone customers at the BlackBerry® booth (South Hall 3 Booth # 30326) at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012). Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM)(TSX: RIM) is showcasing the new BlackBerry® 7.1 OS as well as updates to the BBMTM (BlackBerry® Messenger), BlackBerry® TrafficTM and BlackBerry® TravelTM apps. The new OS and app updates make seizing and sharing the moment even easier.

BlackBerry 7.1 will begin rolling out from carriers around the world beginning today and over the coming weeks(1). The new releases of BBM, BlackBerry Traffic and BlackBerry Travel will be available on BlackBerry® App WorldTM beginning today.

"BlackBerry 7 delivered a next-generation platform for our customers around the world and the range of software updates announced today build upon the strengths of that platform to further enhance the mobile experience and make life easier, from managing daily tasks to planning big adventures," said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion.

Life Is Better Shared

The BlackBerry 7.1 OS incorporates a new feature called BlackBerry® Tag that can change the way BlackBerry users share information and content. By simply tapping their NFC enabled BlackBerry® smartphone against another NFC enabled BlackBerry smartphone, users can make sharing easier than ever. They can instantly invite a friend to BBM, exchange contact information, documents, URLs, photos and other multimedia content, and they can also pair their BlackBerry smartphone with an NFC enabled Bluetooth® device.

Support for BlackBerry Tag is just one of a number of enhancements in the updated BBM app (version 6.1) being released today. Additional features allow users to personalize their experience even more with support for animated avatars (animated GIFs)(2), a dozen new and fun emoticons to spice up conversations, and the ability to customize chat bubbles with different colors. In addition, the new BBM app allows users to add customized personal messages of up to 160 characters in their online Profile, more than double the length supported in previous versions. Users can also now set the picture for their BBM avatar directly from the camera app - simply snap a picture and select "Set as BBM Display Picture" from the menu.

Make Things Happen

With BlackBerry 7.1, users can be productive from virtually anywhere. They can now turn their BlackBerry smartphone into a mobile hotspot that can be shared by up to 5 Wi-Fi® -enabled devices, including laptops and tablets(3). The 7.1 update also supports carrier implemented Wi-Fi calling services (UMA/GAN where available), allowing users to make Wi-Fi calls from their BlackBerry smartphone that don't eat into their airtime minutes.

Getting to any location is now so much easier with the new BlackBerry Traffic (version 3.0), a free app from RIM that is being released today. BlackBerry Traffic determines a user's estimated time of arrival (ETA) based on current traffic conditions, and now includes hands-free turn-by-turn voice guidance.

Planning, booking, managing, and sharing travel activities are also easier than ever thanks to the updated BlackBerry Travel app that is being released today. The new version adds support for contextual deals, such as offers for hotels and car rentals, or for arranging limo services to and from the airport. BlackBerry Travel can automatically keep track of a user's bookings and schedule and quickly notify them if their flight is delayed or cancelled, and can then help them find a new flight right away. The automatic trip scanning feature pulls the travel details into the app, allowing the user to see all their travel updates in one place.

Seize the Moment

Sometimes it's nice when someone (or something) does the thinking for you. The Universal Search capability has again been enhanced to help users find what they are looking for. It now includes an auto-suggest feature that intelligently filters Bing® search results to offer users a variety of relevant Web sites based on their search terms.

Love a good deal? Now finding and taking advantage of them is so much easier thanks to BlackBerry® Maps - an essential app that comes preinstalled on BlackBerry smartphones and has been enhanced in the BlackBerry 7.1 OS update. When users launch the new BlackBerry Maps application they can discover special offers, coupons, and discounts from nearby vendors. Users can immediately act on the deals presented to them by clicking to call the vendor or clicking to get the best route to the location where the deal is offered(4).

Customers with a BlackBerry Curve 9360 or 9380 smartphone will find a nice surprise with the BlackBerry 7.1 OS update in the form of an FM radio. The FM radio circuitry is already built in to the Curve 9360 and 9380 models and BlackBerry 7.1 provides users with a new app that allows them to tune in and enjoy local FM radio stations. Listening to the FM radio does not require a data plan or use data services.

For more information about the BlackBerry 7.1 OS update, visit www.blackberry.com/bb7. For more information and to download the new versions of BBM, BlackBerry Traffic and BlackBerry Travel visit BlackBerry App World at www.blackberry.com/appworld.

1. The BlackBerry 7.1 OS update is subject to carrier certification. Please check for availability with your service provider.
2. The animated avatar feature is supported on BlackBerry smartphones running OS 5.0 and higher.
3. Mobile hotspot feature requires BlackBerry 7.1 and may require an additional data plan. Please check with your service provider.
4. Please check with your service provider for availability of this feature.

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

RIM Showcases New BlackBerry 7.1 OS at CES 2012


I have the very first leaked OS 7.1 and I can't seems to find this NFC BB Tag funtion. Anyone here found it in a leaked OS 7.1?

This is awesome! There are some really cool features in the 7.1 update, mostly from the MS partnership. Glad to see this alliance is paying off in such important ways.

While they're rolling out all these things they might wanna work on that BIS update. I have an OS 6 device and haven't been able to edit my email settings from my device for months.

Any carrier needs to release this ASAP. Deleting vendor.xml gives me Tag, Mobile Hotspot and all the other things that we've been waiting for.

So this is still being rolled out by carriers? Their facebook post made it sound like it would be available in App World. I knew that was too good to be true...

Why are the checkboxes still so small in the network connections screen? Usually three tries on my 9900 with my giant thumb

My 9860 has all the pins for NFC, at least it appears to, but it doesn't have the NFC antenna built into the back. The pins are there for contact, but I guess I will need a new back and software to get NFC working. Will this happen sometime? RIM?

Fuck, I should have gotten the curve! AARRGGHH!!!!

Oh well. I have a radio I could take with me. Oh and miroamer. :D

Why Are they still putting resources into 7.x. Should they have 100% of the company focuses on BB10 (aka BBX) right now?

Another thing: 90% of the Blackberry owners I know have no clue about most of the features in BB6/7, and likely the same for Android. Yet iPhone owners know every single thing their phone is capable of. RIM needs to change this. Instead of showing commercials with music producers using BBM, show people using NFC-bump, BBM lists, BBM groups, voice search, etc.

May be because some people still prefer the current interface and have no reason to wait for bb10. I for instance home that they keep both operating systems for a while. Let 7,7.1,7.2 series keep progressing and let the people who want the full touch interface go for bb10.

Of course, bb10 will get all the attention and all the apps. But I am sure that I am not the onlyone which feels that 7.1 has everything I need.

They day bb10 is full compatible with bis and bes and the day every bb customer switches to bb10 instead of the current Os, I too will. But till then it's candy bar qwerty all the way.