BlackBerry gets native Office doc editing

The ability to edit Microsoft Office docs without third-party software was among the enhancements to the BlackBerry platform announced at Lotusphere 2008

RIM has announced a series of updates to the BlackBerry platform, including the ability to edit Microsoft Office documents without the need for a third-party application.

Announced on Tuesday at the Lotusphere 2008 conference in Orlando, Florida, the enhancements also include beefed-up security and the ability to check the availability of colleagues before sending a meeting request.

Users of BlackBerry smartphones have until now only been able to edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on their handsets through the use of third-party software. However, the integration of DataViz's Documents To Go software into the platform means such functionality will become standard on the devices by the second half of this year.

Messages that have been deleted from the handset will also now be searchable and retrievable from the email server, and HTML and rich-text messages will be able to be displayed with the original formatting preserved.

The security side of the platform is also to receive enhancements. Administrators will be able to select which applications get to use GPS functionality, and can enable or disable Bluetooth profiles. Users will also now be able to view attachments held within encrypted S/MIME and PGP messages.

Those users running IBM Lotus Sametime and Microsoft Live Communications Server will also get improved instant-messaging support and address-book integration.

Developers for the BlackBerry platform have not been left out — several Java Micro Edition application programming interfaces (APIs), including one for MMS messaging, are now supported.

The enhancements are to be phased in during the first half of 2008, RIM said on Tuesday.