Research In Motion released updated tools on Tuesday to make it easier and faster for developers to create feature-rich Web and wireless applications to be used on the company's BlackBerry smartphones.

The updated Java and Web-based tools will open up access to the smartphone's hardware features, native BlackBerry software applications and other unique system capabilities of the BlackBerry application platform, the company said. The applications can integrate with a BlackBerry's email inbox, calendar, address book and other features. “We believe these enhanced tools will spur a new level of creativity and innovation as developers find new ways to leverage the unique power and integrated nature of the BlackBerry platform in order to bring useful, intelligent applications to the millions of BlackBerry smartphone users around the world,” Alan Brenner, RIM's senior vice-president, BlackBerry platform, said in a statement.

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM launched its online apps store last April, following on the success of Apple's much larger offering. The apps store allows users to download software for everything from news and entertainment to travel and games. Apple, RIM and Google have been vying to attract top developers to their platforms as apps become more of a factor in the decisions of consumers when buying smartphones. Verizon, the biggest U.S. mobile operator, opened its own apps store in late March.

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