This article was originally written by Chan Wern Shen on the old Lowyat.NET website.
Although RIM didn’t launch any new devices during CES 2012, the Canadian device maker used this opportunity to showcase some long awaited updates to their PlayBook OS 2 and BlackBerry 7.1 OS.
The most notable update to the BlackBerry 7.1 OS is the inclusion of the WiFi hotspot functionality which turns your device into a WiFi router of sorts. Supporting up to five devices at one go, this functionality isn’t new to smartphone users in general (Android and Apple devices have had this feature for quite a while now), but would be a welcome update to BlackBerry users the world over.
When it comes to the long anticipate BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2 announcement however, the list is a much longer and exciting one which will definitely give PlayBook users something to look forward to.
Story continues after the jump.
One of the biggest updates that RIM is giving to the PlayBook with OS 2 has got to be the inclusion the native email and calendar client which we spotted during the recent BlackBerry DevCon Asia 2011. Often ridiculed by users of Android and iOS based devices for its glaring absence on the original PlayBook, RIM showed off a unified inbox that integrates various social media services such as Twitter and Linkedin.
Video credits: CrackBerry
Based on the video above from CrackBerry, the email client does look very robust and well-built, taking design hints from the browser by allowing you to compose, read and send multiple emails at a go and navigate through the open windows with a browser-like tab ribbon.
The new native calendar application also features strong social integration with your contacts book and can display your upcoming appointments by date (as would a normal calendar application) or by person. When in “person” view, you also get easy access to the person’s social media profiles, making a little pre-meeting stalking preparation all the more easier.
The last big feature which we noticed from the press release was the inclusion of a remote control function. Allowing you use your BlackBerry smartphone as a keyboard and mouse when connected over BlackBerry Bridge, the PlayBook can now be set up to be a perfect media playing device when hooked up to a TV via HDMI. Oh, did we mention that PlayBook OS 2 will include .MKV support too?
With these changes, it certainly looks like RIM is sticking to its guns and continuing to market the BlackBerry PlayBook as the perfect accessory to your BlackBerry smartphone, and we like what we see. As PlayBook users ourselves, we can’t help but to agree that the original PlayBook is pretty weak in terms of real life use application on the current OS, but if RIM rolls out these updates in February as scheduled then OS 2 could serve as a much needed lifeline for the tablet.