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RIM unveils BlackBerry OS 6 with iPhone-like multitouch


Set to arrive in the third quarter of 2010, Research in Motion's new BlackBerry 6 mobile operating system will feature multitouch input for its Web browser, e-mail, media player and more, with iPhone-like features such as pinch-to-zoom.

RIM provided a sneak peek of BlackBerry 6 at WES 2010, the annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium for BlackBerry users. A video demonstrated flipping through album art, pinch-to-zoom on images, typing, and making calls — all with a touchscreen.

New features shown in the debut video include contextual pop-ups, a cover flow-like feature in the integrated media player, and a new WebKit-based Web browser that includes support for tabs. The video also pushes the social networking capabilities of the device, with integration with Facebook and Twitter.

Though the video focuses on the touch capabilities of BlackBerry 6, all of the features will also become available on RIM's other non-touch handsets as well. The company plans to update many of its existing line of phones to the new operating system, but has conceded that not all devices will receive an update.

Officials at the WES 2010 keynote said that RIM has redesigned all of the core applications within the BlackBerry operating system. It also revealed that there are 41 million BlackBerry users, and 90 million BlackBerrys have been sold to date. Co-CEO Mike Lazardis said he expects his company to reach the 100 million milestone soon.

RIM has touted the operating system upgrade as an "all-new user experience." The company had already announced on Monday that BlackBerry 6 would be available in the third quarter of calendar 2010, but did not include any details on the software.

The BlackBerry follows the already-released Google Nexus One, along with Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Phone 7, in offering multitouch capabilities on a mobile device, years after Apple pioneered the input method with the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007.

It is rumored that the addition of multitouch functionality to the Google Android-powered Nexus One smartphone, via a software update, is what prompted Apple to sue the handset's manufacturer, HTC. Apple has accused HTC of violating 20 patents it owns that are in use in the iPhone.