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BlackBerry OS 6.0: What we know so far

RIM kicks off its BlackBerry conference in Orlando with some announcements about the next version of its operating system and promises of previews to come.

BlackBerry OS 6.0 prototyped
Boy Genius Report got its hands on this prototpye of a smartphone running BlackBerry OS 6.0. Boy Genius Report

In light of the fact that BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is itching to drum up excitement about its forthcoming version 6.0 operating system at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) conference this week in Orlando, Fla., it's too bad the company was customarily tight-lipped last week when we asked if it could confirm leaked photos and details of the very same OS .

As we predicted, RIM will be previewing the next generation of its operating system at the conference beginning on Tuesday. RIM has confirmed very little else about the OS, other than a promised debut in the next calendar quarter.

We should also expect to see "better" integration with touch devices, trackpad support, and support for a QWERTY keyboard--essentially spelling out support for devices that already exist, such as the Storm, Bold, and Tour. Unlike Microsoft, which has no plans for adapting its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system to previous phones, RIM will make the OS upgrade backward-compatible. In other words, it will be available for some earlier smartphone models.

We also know that the next generation of BlackBerry's oft-maligned native browser will be based on WebKit, the same open-source browser building block at the foundation of iPhone's Safari and Google's Android browsers. In fact, we've been expecting the migration to a WebKit browser ever since RIM bought up browser maker Torch Mobile in August 2009.

Stay tuned for the rush of details that's sure to come as RIM begins previewing OS 6.0 at this event and in the coming months, and brush up in the meantime on the features and improvements purportedly uncovered in the leaked OS.