RIM unveils its new OS, brings Android apps to PlayBook

RIM logoResearch In Motion today said it is fusing the best parts of the BlackBerry OS used on smartphones and the QNX operating system used on the PlayBook tablet to create BBX, a new mobile operating system that will eventually power all BlackBerry mobile devices. RIM also announced a developer beta of the next version of the PlayBook operating system “with support for running Android applications.”

“The Developer Beta includes the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and the BlackBerry Plug-In for Android Development Tools (ADT), allowing developers to quickly and easily bring Android applications to BlackBerry PlayBook tablets,” RIM said in a statement.

With BBX, developers will eventually be able to write applications that work on both BlackBerry phones and tablets, RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis said at BlackBerry DevCon. But Lazaridis did not say when today’s BlackBerry 7 phones will be replaced with BBX-powered ones. For now, RIM’s phone and tablet platforms remain separate, but Lazaridis said “the whole company is aligning behind this single platform and single vision.” Developers who want to build for both smartphones and the PlayBook today can use WebWorks to build cross-platform apps using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

The launch of RIM’s PlayBook earlier this year was a commercial failure, and widely criticized because it lacks a native e-mail client. Today, RIM demonstrated the hardware’s capabilities with several game demos, and showed off enterprise-focused features coming to the PlayBook.

The same BlackBerry Balance technology that lets IT shops keep a user’s personal information isolated from business information by creating separate partitions, now available on BlackBerry phones, will soon be extended to the PlayBook. This, for example, would prevent an employee from copying and pasting corporate information into personal applications like Facebook and Twitter. BlackBerry AppWorld, meanwhile, will let businesses create their own application catalogs to distribute applications privately to their own users. RIM also showed off Citrix Receiver running on the PlayBook, which will let customers connect the tablet to a Windows virtual desktop, a capability already available on Android and iOS. Citrix announced the Receiver for the PlayBook technology preview last month.

Lazaridis boasted that RIM has improved its subscriber base from 50 million to 70 million over the past year. However, RIM’s smartphone market share has fallen in the same time frame from 18.7 percent to 11.7 percent, according to Gartner. RIM did not help itself last week when a worldwide outage left users without e-mail, IM, and Web browsing for parts of four days. RIM has not fully explained the core switch failure that caused the network outage. Lazaridis today said the company is still performing a root cause analysis and internal systems audits.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: BlackBerry, mobile phones, OSes, RIM, tablets

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