Research In Motion is rolling out some significant updates to its tablet today. It also made the beta of the Native SDK for BlackBerry Tablet OS available to developers.
RIM's PlayBook tablet is receiving an operating system update starting Wednesday. The new version of the tablet software, v18.104.22.16842, only adds one new feature, but it is a whopper: differential updates.
RIM explains that this OS version prepares the PlayBook for future system updates that don't affect the entire device. For example, RIM will be able to update the PlayBook's browser, or menu tools, or media player without forcing users to download the entire operating system. This means apps, services, and features can be updated individually rather than en masse.
Apple and Google have each taken similar steps so that native iOS and Android applications and services can be updated individually rather than only in a full system update. The idea is to help reduce the amount of data needed to update the devices and applications, as well as speed the update process.
In addition to the differential update feature, the new version of PlayBook OS improves the tablet's Wi-Fi performance on WEP networks. PlayBook OS version v22.214.171.12442 also makes it faster to pair with a BlackBerry smartphone and open attachments via the BlackBerry Bridge application. RIM says that users will be notified about the system update, or can check for it manually. It is available for install over-the-air.
RIM said that it has also made an update available to the Bridge application for BlackBerry smartphones. This new version of the Bridge app makes improvements to the performance between BlackBerries and the PlayBook. RIM suggests that all users update to version 126.96.36.199. The download is 2.1 MB from BlackBerry App World. The Bridge application is necessary to get email, contacts, and calendar data on the PlayBook.
Speaking of email on the PlayBook...
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that RIM will provide a system update to the PlayBook later this year that adds a native email application and a native BlackBerry Messenger application to the tablet. Bloomberg's source was not an official RIM spokesperson, rather it was someone familiar with RIM's plans. RIM said earlier this year that native email, calendar, and contact support would come to the PlayBook eventually. Bloomberg's source didn't provide any details on what features the native PlayBook email application will have.
Last up in PlayBook news, RIM has made the Native SDK for BlackBerry Tablet OS available to developers starting Wednesday. This is significant because it gives PlayBook developers access to more APIs and the ability to create applications that behave like native PlayBook applications do.
RIM explained in a blog post, "The Native SDK includes the industry leading QNX Momentics Tool Suite, which is an Eclipse-based integrated development environment. QNX Momentics provides unparalleled memory profiling, application debugging, and memory usage statistics, giving you the tools you need to debug sophisticated programs, including hardware accelerated OpenGL applications. QNX Momentics is designed to provide you with a safe, secure, and powerful environment to quickly and efficiently build applications for the BlackBerry Tablet OS."
Right now, the Native SDK is available in a closed beta program. Those developers interested in joining the beta will need to fill out a form and apply for entry. RIM said space is limited.
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