A variety of U.S. carriers have already reportedly released OS 7.1 for select devices, including T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. Unfortunately, only BlackBerry smartphones running RIM's BlackBerry 7 OS are compatible with the 7.1 software, so users with older BlackBerrys are out of luck.
Though BlackBerry 7.1 certainly isn't BlackBerry 10 -- RIM's upcoming OS that's built on a new and completely different software foundation -- it's definitely worth the update, and it ought to help tide over anxious CrackBerry users until BlackBerry 10 becomes available in late 2012 or early 2013.
Find more details on the BlackBerry OS 7.1 update on RIM's Inside BlackBerry blog.
2. BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 software
BlackBerry handhelds aren't the only RIM devices getting major software updates; RIM's PlayBook tablet is also set to receive a significant software makeover this month. BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 is expected to be released for RIM tablets sometime in February, and it contains a variety of cool new and valuable features, not the least of which is the much-anticipated Android Player for PlayBook, which will enable users to run certain Android applications on their RIM tablets. (Read more details about how the PlayBook will run Android software.)
Additional features include "native" PlayBook personal information management (PIM) apps so users can access their e-mail, contacts, calendar and more without using RIM's BlackBerry Bridge software; improved and updated document editing functionality; a new "Print to Go" app that lets you wirelessly connect to compatible nearby printers; and an "open on" feature that lets you quickly open up files and other content stored on your smartphone or your PlayBook tablet.
RIM's BlackBerry Bridge 2.0 software also lets you employ your BlackBerry smartphone to control a PlayBook tablet and use your handheld's keyboard to type messages and text.
Read more details about PlayBook 2.0 on RIM's website.
3. New BlackBerry 7 Curve devices
BlackBerry users may not see any new BlackBerry 10 devices until later this year, or maybe even early next year, but that doesn't mean RIM won't be releasing any new handhelds. RIM should soon announce and release two new, low-end, entry-level smartphones: the Curves 9220 and 9320.
Neither the Curve 9220 nor the Curve 9320 will likely turn many heads -- they look almost exactly like the current line of Curve smartphones -- but they're both solid upgrades to an already popular product line. And they're aimed at new smartphone users who may not want or need the latest and greatest devices with cutting edge features.
More specifically, the Curve 9220, codenamed "Davis," and Curve 9320, dubbed "Armstrong", both have the same display resolutions (320 by 240) as the earlier Curve 9300, 8520 and 83xx families of devices, according to reports. But they will both allegedly also run the BlackBerry 7 OS; the 9320 supports HSPA+ data transfer while the 9220 is EDGE only; they pack digital cameras with flash (3.2 megapixels for the 9320 and 2 megapixels for the 9220); and they both have Bluetooth and FM radio support -- the 9320 also has GPS.