Beefing up the BlackBerry: RIM announces latest software updates

rim_logo_black.jpgToday Research in Motion announced a number of BlackBerry software improvements at the Lotusphere conference. The updates are expected to go live during the first half of 2008. Messaging BlackBerry owners synced up to a BlackBerry Enterprise solution will be able to search through their e-mails, even if the e-mail is no longer stored on their BlackBerry handset. Rich text and HTML emails will also retain their entire original formatting. If it’s those smiley emoticons you’re after, RIM’s also got you covered: it’s introducing advanced emoticon support today. Anyone using Microsoft Live Communications Server or IBM lotus Safetime will find that it’s now possible to “click to call,” a buddy list member, or “convert to call” during a messaging conversation. Collaboration RIM also said that it has integrated DataViz’s “Documents to Go” software in its software update so that BlackBerry v4.5 users will be able to open Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files on the go. Later this year, RIM expects to add Excel support. Co-workers will also be able to check each-other’s calendars using RIM’s “Free-Busy Calendar Lookup” feature to avoid conflicting meeting requests. Security RIM’s new BlackBerry Monitoring Software, as part of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server v4.1.5 software update, will give administrators the ability to monitor BlackBerrys to provide better support and troubleshooting. In other words, those IT guys can see and better keep track of every site you surf, bucko. RIM has also added Encrypted Attachment viewing, increased control over GPS, and increased Bluetooth controls today. Users can now open and view PGP and S/MIME encrypted attachments. Administrators will be able to control which programs access a BlackBerry’s GPS functionality—which is a good thing for anyone whose wife has preinstalled a third-party tracker (I kid, I kid). Finally, admins will also be able to control Bluetooth profiles, giving them the ability to change the “discoverable” time—further preventing an attack from someone trying to hijack using Bluetooth. Application Management and Development BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager will allow users to install and uninstall software from their BlackBerry via a Web browser on their computers, so they don’t have to do it from the units themselves. While it will be helpful on the end-user side, it will make the work of corporate BlackBerry administrators much easier, giving them the ability to troubleshoot any program you might need while you’re on the road. Then again, it might also give them the power to delete that Sudoku game you’ve been playing in meetings recently. RIM has also added the support for the following Java Micro Edition API’s: “JSR 205 Wireless Messaging 2.0 (MMS Support) – Provides the ability to send and receive messages that include images, sound and video via Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). “ “JSR 211: Content Handler API (CHAPI): allows applications to invoke other applications, including native BlackBerry applications, to handle specific content types.” This sounds similar to the way a browser in Windows could launch an executable file JSR 238: Internationalization – allows developers to easily create a single applications for multiple languages and regions across the globe with proper location-specific language, time conventions, currencies, and number formats. JSR 172: Web Services – enables developers to quickly develop and deploy applications that act as web services clients. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server updates will require BlackBerry Enterprise Server v4.1.4 and the BlackBerry handheld updates will require device software v4.5 or newer.

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