BlackBerry OS 7.1 adds mobile Hotspot, NFC contact sharing

Research in Motion has announced BlackBerry OS 7.1 at CES in Las Vegas on Monday bringing with it a host of new features, most notably mobile Wi-Fi hotspot support.

Users who get the new update will now be able to turn their BlackBerry 7.1 OS device into a Wi-Fi router letting up to five devices connect to it.

What is unsure however is whether it will be a tethering option for the carriers and networks to charge for, or like Android smartphones just work.

RIM has also said it has updated a number of other apps that you in the new operating system update including BBM (to version 6.1), BlackBerry Traffic, and BlackBerry Travel.

For BBM users that means you now get BlackBerry Tag integration letting you invite a friend to BBM by simply tapping your NFC enabled BlackBerry smartphones against each other. BlackBerry Tag will also let you share contacts, media and files, and invite friends to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) through a simple touch.

Also new is Universal Search now has a new auto-suggest feature that that intelligently filters Bing search results to offer you a variety of relevant Web sites based on your search terms, Wi-Fi Calling, although this will only work if the network supports it, and finally Curve 9360 and 9380 smartphone will now get FM radio.

The BlackBerry 7.1 OS update will begin rolling out from carriers around the world beginning today and over the coming weeks.

The new OS update should see the company through till when it details BlackBerry OS 10 in February at Mobile World Congress. The BB OS 10 roll-out is expected at the end of the year.