BlackBerry 6 gets unveiled, treads on iPhone's toes

Screen shot 2010-04-27 at 11.52.48 AM

RIM has just unveiled BlackBerry 6 (yes, single digit just like iPhone OS 4), their latest, greatest mobile operating system and they've got the Blackeyed Peas-strewn video highlight reel to prove it!

As always, our confederates from are all over the WES2010 launch event and bring us back all the BlackBerry 6 highlights:

  • Touchscreen friendly: The preview video makes it clear that BlackBerry 6 will be much more touchscreen friendly than what we have seen in the past from RIM, with new gestures, multitouch support and improved feedback for the user (kinetic scrolling, rubber banding). We've also heard that BlackBerry 6 will work well with non-touchscreen input as well and it looks like it should suit the optical trackpad.

  • Revamped UI and OS/Homescreen Experience: At first quick glance during the video BlackBerry 6 looks familiar, but then all of the new and improved features start to jump out at you... Search from Homescreen, a pull down for notifications (sweet!), pop-up contextual menus, etc.

  • Revamped Native Apps: It's clear that RIM has put a lot of effort into key native apps as well. The inbox and contacts and media apps are all getting updates, and they're looking good.

  • WebKit Browser/Rendering Engine: RIM's new WebKit rendering engine is going to really speed up the web browsing experience while keeping it efficient. The browser gets much-needed features like tabbed browsing.

To us it looks like they've taken the solid BlackBerry messaging experience and tried to expand it with iPhone like music, video, and app abilities. In other words, they're making a serious play for Apple's market. Some of this stuff looks like Apple's 2007 iPhone OS 1 demo of the iPod and Safari app's -- and that's not a critique, Apple still hasn't demoed any messaging equivalent to any BlackBerry from any era. If BlackBerry catches up with web and media, where's Apple on messaging? (Mobile iChat video perhaps?)

There are still problems to be sure; BlackBerry 6 doesn't address their OS' increasingly outdated code base and the new app focus doesn't fix the anemic storage limitations -- but those problems don't yet affect the average user and so really don't exist outside bullet points and blogs.

Apple has revealed most of iPhone OS 4 (see our complete preview and feature walkthrough) and now RIM has show off BlackBerry 6.

Check out the boom, boom pow after the break and let us know what you think, should Apple be worried?


Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

BlackBerry 6 gets unveiled, treads on iPhone's toes


As a current BB user whose 2 year contract just expired I was waiting for iPhone 4G to come out before I made the switch, now with 6 it has given me some pause. I will definately look into it before I make the jump. I don't see iPhone users jumping ship to a BB but it may keep people on the bubble like myself around and attract back some of the business users that went to other platforms.

I applaud the effort. But there is nothing revolutionary about putting a new "skin" on a dated OS. Sorry but I'm not drinking the koolaid. I wish they would spend as much effort and creativity on building up a new modern OS; remove the app size constraints and start moving things forward. Otherwise it is a wasted effort. The idea is to be ahead of your competitors not on the heels of what they offered years ago. Disappointing.

It is funny that you say there is no new innovation and nothing to make them stand out. Didnt Apple just preview iPhone OS 4 with abslutely nothing new to the industry, just new to iPhone. Seems like BB is keeping up with the trand of just do what everyone else does.

The comments for this video are amusing. I love how one commenter at Giz pointed out that at 0:56 that the business man is cheating on his wife. Note the mom and son as the wallpaper, then note the interesting pelvic thrust for natasha, who doesn't look any thing like his wife at all. Was funny as hell. Seriously though blackberry only has one touch screen phone and this looks like an all touch OS so where are the new phones that this is going to run on?

Does it compete with iPhone OS 4.0? Not in a million years! First of all Rim are skating to where the puck has been, not where it's going to be. With the introduction of iChat to the iPhone (video and voice calling + instant messaging) Apple are skating to where the puck is going to be. Plus most of Blackberry 6 is sorely lacking in terms of originality.

That video was horrible.. glad they are updating the OS for those that want it, but that didn't entice me at all.. it made me happy to be where I am actually.

There are still problems to be sure; BlackBerry 6 doesn’t address their OS’ increasingly outdated code base and the new app focus doesn’t fix the anemic storage limitations —

Storage can be fixed easily enough.
But how does anyone know the vintage of their code base?
And does it matter? Code, unlike fish, does not necessarily go bad with age.
Old code tends to be lean and mean. New code tends to be bloated.

Can't really get a good look with what is supposed to be the screen constantly moving and opaque with someone dancing in the background. Don't like the video.

The problem with old code base is that is limits your ability to effectively take advantage of newer innovation. Your product becomes a stove pipe as those in industry well know. Consider the auto industry. It would be like saying cars from 20 years ago are just fine with respect to those on the road now. The newer cars come standard with safety features that did not exist on older models and that could not even be added. You can't add an ABS system on an old car if the onboard computer cannot handle the processing required to monitor the sensors. That is while advancements in both hardware and software are critical. They feed on each other, hardware and software, and for us that is a good thing.
The same goes for code. You can only push it so far. The bb os was not developed for the purpose of how the phone is being currently marketed. An OS designed for e-mail and basic media is not the same as an OS designed for advanced media and say gaming. Which is why you see the type of games offered on the RIM OS are a far cry from those on say iPhone, Android, etc.; those devices were designed specifically for that type of use. There are optimizations that are to be considered etc. I dont think anyone up here is thinking they wish they could switch back to Windows 95. While the bloat associated with Microsoft is a separate issue; the point is the code base must be refreshed to more effectively stay abreast with the latest developments in technology and what users want.
I would also agree. From what I have seen of iPhone 4 there is nothing new under the sun there either. And iPhone still lacks some basic features I wish Apple would consider adding. But the fact is Apple has a set the bar and everyone is playing catchup. Including Google. RIM once had the bar set but failed to continue their line of innovation. Apple has always had a reputation for innovation. Even when on top they continue to innovate as if they were on the bottom playing catchup. And that is why you have seen a company once on crutches emerge as a Goliath. Will they remain there? Only time will tell. But with Jobs at the realm, love him or hate him, they have a serious advantage.

I have owned every iphone since they were released and plan on getting a ipad but after playing with my friends incredible its better in almost every way except for apps support now blackberry is upgrading there os man 4.0 is getting old and its not even out yet man if the next i phone doesnt change carriers soon im change from the iphone

Even with the new BB 6 OS, the games and apps will still suck compared to what the iPhone has to offer. I had Blackberry for 5 years before switching to iPhone 3GS. Still love it!
Sorry'll have to do better than that!

Who knows really what they have under thebhood for this new os. Problem with these gooey types of phones like iPhone and android, is that the speed which blackberry users have become accustomed to might be gone. That would be bad as many people stay with bb for that berry reason. That's why it's so good for actually communicating with people not just surfing playing games or listening to music which are more solitary activities.
I'm definitely gonna give it a look at iPhone os 4 is definitely just an evolutionary jump to features that other phone os es have had for years.

its not that its bad its just that it feels like it is just barely catching up to iPhone os 1.0 and not even. if they keep this up and at the current pace they are doomed with out them even noticing it. The Os still looks outdated. blackberry is the past.

Apple has nothing to fear BB's problem is no matter what it has the only market that takes it seriously is Business users. There are very few everyday users aka young people using BBs or maybe that's just my biased opinion because none of the people I've spoken to use it I'm sure someone will correct me on that. It's funny because I remember reading something about BB once and I commented about what they could do to liven up their device and now I feel like a psychic LOL

I switched from BB to iPhone not because of the OS, I love the OS. I switched because of the lack of apps, and lack of application memory. The lack of application memory was always a hassle to manage. I LOVE the BB's push email, BBM, multitasking, battery life. But the apps and application memory killed it for me.

I actually like my storm (it took me 2 years but hey..).would i get another one?? probably not. but after having the iphone and the storm, I'm wanting my physical buttons back. I dont think RIM has anything to worry about. They are a key player in corporate worlds and for anybody that has any kind of business. I saw a a guy at the barbershop give his son his iphone so he could play a spongebob game on ot it... something I would never do with my blackberry. The iphone has literally evolved into a toy and im not saying that it's necessarily a BAD thing but you really cant take those things serioulsy in a business perspective. On another note,I know plenty of ppl with blackberries and theyve really caught on in the consumer market. I would probably never go back to an iphone but they seem to be a favorite to ppl who have never had one. Im over it already and too used to the simplicity and "right to the point" OS of blackberry. It fits me.

I know more people with blackberries than iphones, and none of them are "business" people. Blackberries are still the number #1 smartphones, so they are still in the lead. If they will stay there, only time will tell. But with the release of OS 6, they sure as hell aren't giving up that spot too easily!
Simply put. If you actually want a phone/messaging device. Blackberry
If you want games and apps, Iphone.

Look at 0.51 in the video, in the pics app! One of the pictures is the original iPhone "Clown Fish" picture! Haha!!
Otherwise, cool upgrade! Good for RIM! :)

I wasn't one for blackberry but this looks pretty nice. ive been considering BBs for a while now. it sucks that now that apple is some what stepping their game up that others are coming a little harder. maybe next year.

Blackberry is using old code? In comparison to what, the iPhone operating system? Isn't the iPhone OS a unix based OS that shares the Darwin foundation that was developed by Apple way back in 2000? Unix is older than probably most of the people here posting. Now, I'm not sure exactly what platform the BB OS uses but it's not like unix or anything unix based is new.

That's nice. It certainly looks like it'll be great for BB users, but I don't see anything there compelling enough to draw more consumers to the platform. In the end, it's still an aging, limited platform, and it doesn't have near the polish or aesthetic appeal of iPhone OS or WebOS.

I will give them credit for the pull-down notifications, something I hope Apple adopts, but BB has always been superior in notifications.
What may be unforgivable, though, is the use of that ridiculous song. I can't stand the Black Eyed Peas.

I'm sorry but having been a Storm owner this OS looks so weak! It is basically the same boring bland looking OS as it has always been. RIM blows and I can't believe people other than business people use their crappy phones! Thank god for Apple and the iPhone!

I'm a Mac expert, love Mac computers - but the Iphone is naff! Had Iphone for 2 months and gave it away. Back to the Blackberry - Now have a Storm 2 and it's great apart from no offline Maps (I live on the border of 4 countries and roam everyday) (even when getting milk). RIM if your listening - sort this out!

BlackBerry has always been superior in notifications.The BlackBerry app is not only limited but are infact, poor simulation of the iPhone apps. here is the finest iphone app development.