RIM first showed off BlackBerry 6 at its conference in April. BlackBerry 6 is the smartphone maker's forthcoming overhaul to the BlackBerry operating system. A heavily revised user interface and new features are what RIM needs badly to keep up with Apple and Google, both of which have set the pace for mobile innovation. BlackBerry 6 looks like it will please most, though probably doesn't revise enough to make everyone happy.
The video demonstration shows off some of the new features that will be part of BlackBerry 6. The first is a drastically redesigned home screen. Some of the most notable improvements include improved notifications. The new notifications clearly displays new emails, missed calls/voicemails, and upcoming calendar entries. The email application has also been refreshed and looks like it includes much better multimedia support, such as embedded photos.
The video also shows a new universal search tool, which will allow users to search through the contents of their phone much faster. Another new application is the Social Feed, which will collect news and social networking updates and pile them all in one spot.
The most exciting change is the brand new BlackBerry Browser, which is based on Apple's WebKit technology. According to what RIM shows in the video, it supports pinch-to-zoom gestures, and looks really sharp. BlackBerries have long needed a revised Web browser. Hopefully this new browser will work in devices running older versions of the BlackBerry OS.
Context-sensitive pop-up menus are another welcome addition. Rather than rely on BlackBerry's tried-and-true menu architecture for navigating, the new operating system provides menus that appear when you want to take certain actions, such as responding to an email, or saving a photo.
The multimedia applications have been overhauled from the ground up. The music player has richer icons and graphics, and looks like it will be much better to interact with. The photo gallery app has similarly been re-realized.
The demonstration showed how a call comes in and allows user to seamlessly switch from other tasks to accepting the call and returning to those tasks. Speaking of tasks, the demo shows what looks to be a task switcher of sorts, which should let users move more easily from app to app and task to task.
The user interface has obviously been built to support touch devices. The on-screen software QWERTY keyboard looks different from what's available on the Storm/Storm2. RIM also showed how its SMS/MMS app has been refreshed, giving threaded conversations a much more appealing look.
RIM has yet to say when BlackBerry 6 will actually launch, but it is expected no later than September 30th. Here are the two videos for you to enjoy.