RIM may be coming off the back of probably its worst year in history, but that hasn't stopped it from kicking off 2012 by showing off its fanciest new tricks at CES 2012 – such as they are.
The Canadian firm has unveiled the updated BlackBerry OS 7.1 platform for its smartphones, including support for BlackBerry Tag NFC sharing and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as the improved PlayBook OS 2.0 for the troubled PlayBook tablet.
BlackBerry OS 7.0 was announced back in August, and the jump to version 7.1 means BB users will now be able to share information such as documents, contacts, BBM invites and the like by tapping their handsets together via the BlackBerry Tag NFC service. BBM itself gets a fresh like of paint too, as do the Traffic and Travel services.
The other main feature of BlackBerry 7.1 is that you can now use your RIM smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five devices, while BlackBerry Curve 9360 or 9380 users now get an FM radio too.
BlackBerry OS 7.1 is rolling out globally from today.
As for PlayBook OS 2.0, it's not a full release we're getting just yet, but a preview – RIM hasn't been in much of a rush to find that cutting edge in the tablet market thus far, after all, so why change now?
The native email app everyone's been banging on about forever is finally arriving, and credit where it's due – the PlayBook's new email chops seem to be every bit as comprehensive as on RIM's BlackBerry OS.
There's a unified inbox including social network integration, tabbed email, rich-text email editing and multi-account search, while as you'd expect multiple accounts are supported too, both business and personal.
There's no clarity just yet on where we are with Android app support, though you could argue that wouldn't be nearly as big an issue as it now is had the proper email and communication tools been on board in the first place.
It's a point that's been widely made before now, but it's worth repeating: this pretty much takes the PlayBook to where it should have been a year ago when it launched. The big question is: a year later, is that actually good enough?