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BlackBerry update brings mobile hotspot functionality

BlackBerry update brings mobile hotspot functionality

Research In Motion (RIM) has announced a new update for its BlackBerry operating system, bringing an array of new, and frankly, much needed, enhancements to the platform.

Showcased at CES 2012, BlackBerry OS 7.1 comes with the ability to transform handsets into portable wireless hotspots for up to five devices, plus make Wi-Fi calls that does not eat into your plan.

BlackBerry OS 7.1

Elsewhere, there’s a new feature called BlackBerry NFC Tag that makes it easier to pair devices and accessories for exchanging of data and multimedia, and Autosuggestions, which makes, well, automatic suggestions based on queries you type into the universal search.

FM radio support is also on board, plus an app to tune right into your favourite stations. The Maps app now displays local deals and offers, too, though we're not sure if that's something we can expect outside the US.

"The range of software updates announced today build upon the strengths of [BlackBerry 7] to further enhance the mobile experience and make life easier, from managing daily tasks to planning big adventures," said RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis.

The update comes after RIM cancelled two of its planned handsets running the QNX operating system that’s intended to replace BlackBerry OS moving forward. The Canadian giant has struggled to keep up with rivals Apple and Google amid poor uptake for its BlackBerry 7 devices, as well as the only QNX device on the market, the PlayBook.

Whether software improvements alone will be able to put the company back into contention remains to be seen. For now, at least, BlackBerry fans will have to be content with the best of limited options.

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