RIM Improves PlayBook With OS 2.1

Updated PlayBook OS lets users send text messages, secure personal data with government-grade encryption.
Tablet Vs. Ultrabook: 10 Ways To Choose
Tablet Vs. Ultrabook: 10 Ways To Choose
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Research In Motion kicked out a new version of PlayBook OS today, which gives owners of RIM's tablet a little something to cheer about. The free update, which can be downloaded and installed over Wi-Fi, brings PlayBook OS up to version 2.1.

According to RIM, the benefits for business users of the PlayBook are many.

With PlayBook OS 2.1 and the updated version of BlackBerry Bridge, RIM tablet owners will be able to send text and picture messages from their tablet. The messages can be composed on the tablet and sent through the Bridge connection to other BlackBerrys and to phone numbers.

[ Is a January release of RIM's next-gen Blackberry too late? Read RIM Hints BB10 Debuts In January: Too Late?. ]

The new OS lets email power users sync individual inbox folders. Individual folders can be synced and un-synced with simple toggle buttons. This feature is supported for IMAP users, too.

The PlayBook now works better with Android applications. RIM says that the Android runtime has been dramatically improved, and users should notice better performance and a more seamless experience between the native PlayBook user interface elements and Android apps. For example, Android apps running within PlayBook OS can now access the tablet's cameras. (RIM added the Android emulator to PlayBook OS 2.0. This is a bit of a stop-gap that increases the number of apps available to the PlayBook.)

RIM has added support for portrait orientation in the base email, calendar, and contact apps so PlayBook owners can hold their tablet sideways and view their email, calendar, and contacts. Previously, these apps were viewable only in landscape orientation.

Business-centric features of the update include the ability to use BlackBerry Mobile Fusion wirelessly, as well as new IT policies that can be applied via Mobile Fusion. PlayBook OS 2.1 adds Microsoft ActiveSync certification management and full-device encryption (including personal data). RIM uses AES 256-bit encryption, which meets government approval for security, on the PlayBook.

PlayBook OS 2.1 is applicable to the Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet. RIM's PlayBook has a 7-inch display, dual 5-megapixel cameras, and a dual-core 1GHz processor. RIM sold 163,000 Playbook tablets in its most recent fiscal quarter.

Download the debut issue of InformationWeek's Must Reads, a compendium of our best recent coverage on enterprise mobility in our new easy-to-read and -navigate Web format. Included in this issue of Must Reads: 6 keys to a flexible mobile device management strategy; why you need an enterprise app store; and Google points to the future of mobile. (Free registration required.)

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing