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Some new information regarding the upcoming features for BIS 4.0 have popped up online. While the features aren’t as game changing as what the BIS 3.x releases may have been, 4.0 should still be a fairly decent stepping stone. Some of the new features include Integration with BlackBerry ID (BBID), Improved BIS End User Communications, Automatic Login improvements, Support for new service tiers, and Google Calendar Improvements. Hit the break for full details.

What’s New?

  • Integration with BlackBerry ID (BBID)
  • Improved BIS End User Communications
  • Automatic Login improvements
  • Support for new service tiers
  • Google Calendar Improvements

Integration with BlackBerry ID (BBID)

Developed by RIM, BlackBerry ID (BBID) provides users with a single user account and credentials to access RIM services and third party services. Users can store and manage their personal information and preferences which can be used to provide personalized application experiences.

BlackBerry ID provides a unified view of a user’s information and preferences to RIM services and participating 3rd parties, who can use BlackBerry ID to authenticate users and access personal information in order to quickly enrol a user and personalize an application to user preferences.

With the release of BIS 4.0, all devices with handheld software 6.1+ and a BBID will have their BIS account associated with their BBID.  The use of BBID will provide users with the ability to seamlessly switch their devices by inputting their BBID on their new device.  This will switch all services over to the new device, including the BIS Email account.

Note: Users with a BBID will not be able to access the HTML user interface – only on device management through the email setup application will be available.

Improved BIS End User Communications

Currently, BIS communicates with end users for a variety of different reasons (i.e. upgrade notifications). These communications are sent using PIN messaging, which are text based and do not allow for dynamic content. As a result, these messages often ignored due to their unofficial look/feel.

In BIS 4.0, a new method of communication will be introduced to help improve the effectiveness of the messages BIS sends to end users.  The improved messages aim to help improve the customer experience when action is required by creating a richer, more appealing message. Improvements will include branding all messages with the BlackBerry logo (making it look more official), and ensuring the message appear at the top of the inbox, even after other messages are received afterwards.  The improved messages will also be sent in rich text, and allow for a user to launch their Email Settings directly from the message. The improved communications will help reduce support calls by increasing the likelihood of an end user resolving their issue by reading and following the steps outlined in the message.

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Note: Improved BIS communications requires HH SW 6.1+.

Automatic Login Improvements

Previously, BIS users who had a username and password were prompted to enter their credentials whenever they accessed their BIS account from their device.  Customers often forgot their credentials, consequently driving support calls.  In BIS 3.2, the existing Automatic Login functionality was updated for an improved experience for users who have a username and password. Users who access their BIS account using a username and password on their device by using the email setup application (devices running 4.6 handheld software or earlier) were automatically logged into their BIS account, thus eliminating the need for a user to enter their credentials. In BIS 4.0, this improvement has been extended to all username password users who use the Email Setup application on 6.0+ devices. This will provide an improved experience for more BIS users by not having to remember BIS credentials when accessing their account from their device, helping reduce support calls related to forgotten BIS account credentials.

Note: Users who have a BlackBerry hosted email address (@<carrier>.blackberry.com), and currently do not have a password assigned to this email address will use their BIS account password for validation actions.

Once BIS 4.0 is released, the user will have to enter their BIS account password  when they make changes to their hosted email address from their device.

Google Calendar Synchronization Improvements

The following improvements to Google Calendar Sync have been included in BIS 4.0:

  • Delete sync for events that belonged to a deleted Calendar

o    If the user goes to Calendar Settings in Google Cal and clicks on the “Delete” link for the primary calendar, then confirms the deletion in the Gmail UI, the events deleted on the Gmail calendar are deleted from the HH as well.

  • Status field sync

o    The “Status” field (free/busy status) is synchronized between the HH and the Google calendar

User Interface Changes

Remove Import Control:

  • In BIS 4.0, the import control option within the HTML user interface will be removed.
  • This feature previously allowed users to have BIS check Outlook for integration settings during setup of a new email account.

Secret Question:

  • Currently, BIS prompts a user to enter a ‘secret question’ and ‘answer to your secret question’ that allows them to retrieve their BlackBerry email address password in the event it has been forgotten.
  • In BIS 4.0 the text will be changed and users will now be asked to enter a ‘security question and ‘answer to your security question’.

It will be interesting to see when these are rolled out. So far only BIS 3.2 features have officially been released in North America and other parts of Europe, Asia. Nonetheless, these features should be released at least sometime within 2011, we hope. Any particular feature stand out as a good one to you?