Research in Motion is to upgrade its consumer-focused BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) email system to version 4.1 in the coming weeks.
The improvements will be back-end mostly and integrate seamlessly with existing BlackBerry smartphones. The BIS 4.1 update will add crucial features to the infrastructure, to put it en-par in terms of speed and reliability with its next-generation BlackBerry OS 7 operating system.
There are four key changes on the books:
Improved large email and native attachment support specifically designed for BlackBerry OS 7 users in mind. It will allow subscribers to receive email messages up to 11MB in size, download attachments up to 8MB in size, and view up to 300KB in a HTML message.
No interruption to email flow when a SIM is swapped. BIS 4.1 will recognise the SIM card associated with the email accounts and continue to serve email, without having to re-authenticate with account passwords.
However, Research in Motion advises that the email service only stops sending messages to the phone when the account data is removed from the smartphone -- not when a new SIM card is inserted.
Also included is pre-population of new accounts, which means that new accounts added to a BlackBerry device will have up to twenty email messages downloaded to the account, instead of none as it is currently.
Two new languages have been added, Latvian and Lithuanian, allowing emails received in these languages to now be viewed natively on BlackBerry smartphones.
The BlackBerry maker normally rolls out its infrastructure updates over a few weeks to different markets, separating out North America from Europe and Asia, to enable better worldwide integration of services and fail-safe options in case of bugs or unforeseen errors.
The last major upgrade to the BlackBerry consumer email service was version 4.0, which offered greater language support and automatic login improvements. For a major milestone version, RIM did not offer key features, and has been criticised for not maintaining a strong enough lead against competitors like Apple.
Launch dates are rumoured for September 23rd for Europe and October 11th for North America.