Research in Motion hasn't had the best of months, particularly with that nasty service outage marring their otherwise outstanding record of uptime, but they're trying hard to put the past behind them at BlackBerry DevCon Americas 2011. The outfit's own dev event played host to a few announcements this morning, one of which is the unveiling of BBX. That's a new platform name for those keeping count, which brings together the "best of BlackBerry and QNX" to provide a next-gen foundation for RIM's smartphones and tablets. That's right, tablets. As in, the PlayBook
is only the beginning.
In addition, RIM
announced a series of developer tool updates, including WebWorks for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets, the Native SDK for the BlackBerry
PlayBook and a developer beta of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 with support for running Android applications. RIM also provided direction for developers on how to best develop and monetize their BlackBerry applications for today and for the future. The company's not announcing when their first BBX-based phone will hit the streets, but with the iPhone 4S selling four million units in the opening weekend, and Ice Cream Sandwich arriving for Android, every extra day is probably one too many. More details on the platform below.
BBX is the next generation platform for BlackBerry smartphones and
tablets. It combines the best of BlackBerry and the best of QNX and is
designed from the ground up to enable the powerful real-time mobile
experiences that distinguish BlackBerry products and services.
The BBX platform will include BBX-OS, and will support BlackBerry
cloud services and development environments for both HTML5 and native
developers. BBX will also support applications developed using any of
the tools available today for the BlackBerry PlayBook - including Native
SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry
Runtime for Android Apps - on future BBX-based tablets and smartphones.
BBX will also include the new BlackBerry Cascades UI Framework for
advanced graphics (shown for the first time today), and bring "Super
App" capabilities to enable many advanced capabilities including deep
integration between apps, always-on Push services, the BBM(TM) Social
Platform, and much more.
Developers who want to support both existing smartphones (running
BlackBerry 6 and BlackBerry 7 OS) and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets can
monetize apps on both platforms today with BlackBerry WebWorks, which
BlackBerry WebWorks SDK 2.2 (supporting both smartphones and tablets),
is now available and includes updates for the new PlayBook OS SDK,
PlayBook Simulator and more.
The BlackBerry WebWorks APIs are supported by the Ripple Emulator, a
standalone, high-fidelity browser-like emulation tool that allows
developers to test and debug their applications on multiple platforms
and devices without having to compile or launch simulators. Starting
today the Ripple Emulator is available in beta and can also be
downloaded from RIM's WebWorks Developer site at:
Native SDK - Content Rich, Fast and Smooth Running Applications
RIM also announced today the immediate availability of the Native SDK
for the BlackBerry PlayBook (1.0 gold release). The Native SDK allows
developers to build high-performance, multi-threaded, native C/C++
applications and enables developers to create advanced 2D and 3D games
and other apps with access to OpenGL ES 2.0 and Open AL, as well as
device specific APIs. Applications developed with the Native SDK will
run today on the BlackBerry PlayBook and will be forwardly compatible on
BBX-based tablets and smartphones.
The Native SDK includes support for C/C++ POSIX library and
compliance, device events like gesture swipes and touch screen inputs,
access to code management systems using industry standard Eclipse CDT
(C/C++ Development Tools) and advanced debug and analysis tools. QNX
Momentics Tool Suite, an Eclipse-based integrated development
environment, is included. It provides memory profiling, application
debugging, and memory usage statistics to help developers debug
sophisticated programs, including hardware accelerated OpenGL
The Native SDK makes the development and porting of game applications
to the BlackBerry PlayBook an extremely attractive proposition for
developers. Well known game publishers, developers and major game engine
companies have already started to bring their game titles and
applications to the platform.
Scoreloop, the largest and fastest growing cross-platform social
gaming ecosystem on mobile, is now available in beta for the Native SDK
through BlackBerry(R) Beta Zone. The Scoreloop SDK provides everything a
developer needs to easily integrate social capabilities into their
native PlayBook applications and includes support for Leaderboards, Game
Challenges, Awards & Achievements, and Player Profiles. Scoreloop's
fully customizable and cross-platform technology empowers developers to
add as many or as few features as they want, from a simple leader-board
to more extensive player achievements. It makes mobile games more
social and profitable.
BlackBerry Cascades - Create Visually Stunning Interfaces
RIM today showcased BlackBerry Cascades, a rich user interface
framework coming to a future release of the Native SDK. Cascades
unleashes a new breed of design centric mobile applications and provides
developers with an exceptional feature set for creating visually
stunning interfaces with custom layouts, animations, effects and 3D
graphics. These features, combined with a strong set of built-in core
user interface components, will make it easy to build beautiful native
applications with innovative user interfaces for the current BlackBerry
PlayBook and future BBX-based tablets and smartphones. Cascades is
scheduled to be made available in beta later this fall.
Adobe AIR 3.0 Support
Adobe Flash enables developers to produce visually stunning, highly
functional applications for the BlackBerry PlayBook that can integrate
with the underlying OS and will be supported on future BBX-based tablets
The BlackBerry PlayBook now supports the recently announced Adobe AIR
3.0 runtime. Among the supported features are Encrypted Local Store that
gives developers the ability to use the Advanced Encryption Standard
(AES) to encrypt and securely store sensitive information on the device,
as well as store passwords, keys or credit card information safely
within the app; StageText that allows developers to take advantage of
native text controls and the native interaction behaviors of those
controls; Multitouch and Gestures built into applications to provide
great usability; and more.
PlayBook OS 2.0 - Developer Beta
RIM introduced today the Developer Beta version of the BlackBerry
PlayBook OS 2.0. 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.
The BlackBerry Plug-In for ADT (an Eclipse plug-in) extends a
developer's existing Eclipse Android development environment to support
the PlayBook, and includes the BlackBerry PlayBook Simulator for
developers to test and debug their apps before submitting them to
BlackBerry App World(TM). Developers can also test and debug their apps
on a PlayBook running the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 - Developer Beta.
Android developers can also repackage Android apps for the BlackBerry
PlayBook online by using the BlackBerry Packager for Android Apps. The
web tool guides developers through a step-by-step process, allowing them
to test their apps for compatibility with the PlayBook, and repackage
and sign their apps for submission to BlackBerry App World, all without
downloading any tools.
BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and the associated tools allow
Android developers to easily expand their market to include BlackBerry
PlayBook users, and hence increase their apps' market potential.
The BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 - Developer Beta also supports Adobe
Air 3.0 and Adobe Flash 11, as well as WebGL, a new web technology that
brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser without
installing additional software. Developers will be able to generate
rich, interactive 3D graphics within their BlackBerry WebWorks
For more information about the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 - Developer
Beta and BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and associated tools, visit
For more information about the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 - Developer
Beta and BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and associated tools,
visit: https://bdsc.webapps.blackberry.com/android/bpaa/ .
Increased Developer Productivity with Open Source Libraries on the BlackBerry PlayBook OS
RIM also announced the BlackBerry Open Source Initiative to port
popular Open Source libraries to the BlackBerry PlayBook platform.
Libraries already available include physics engines like Bullet Physics
and Box2DX, scripting languages like Lua, multimedia libraries like
OpenAL and SDL, gaming frameworks like Cocos2DX and general-purpose
libraries like Boost and Qt. Also available under an Open Source license
are a range of code samples that developers can use to get started
quickly, as well as GamePlay, a new 3D native gaming framework.