BlackBerry announced its 7.1 OS today, and it's loaded with several new features and upgraded apps.
As RIM tells it in the official BlackBerry blog, the philosophy behind the new version of the operating system is to help users to discover new things and make it easier for them to share these discoveries with friends, family, and colleagues.
Admittedly, some of the features are useful, though I wonder if the new OS helps users to discover what they really want, namely the upcoming BlackBerry 10!
At the top of the list of 7.1 OS' capabilities is the ability to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi router and to share that Internet access with five other Wi-Fi devices like laptops and tablets.
Users also can make calls over their carrier's Wi-Fi calling service, such as UMA-lite or GAN-lite. Although this will surely be appealing for those looking to save on their talk time minutes, not all carriers will offer this service, so it's important to check before getting too excited.
BlackBerry Curve 9360 and 9380 owners will be glad to know that the 7.1 OS will enable them to tune their phones into local FM radio stations without using their data plans. All they have to do is plug in a headset, which acts like an antenna, to give their reception a boost and voila--instant radio.
Other new features include Universal Search, which gives you more tailored search results from Bing, and BlackBerry Tag, a sharing feature that unlocks near-field communication and lets users distribute contacts, media, files, and BBM invitations with a simple touch.
Lastly, for all you Groupon and LivingSocial addicts out there, a new feature in BlackBerry Maps highlights special offers, coupons, and discounts from nearby businesses. You can take advantage of them by either calling about the deal through the phone or snagging the coupon code.