RIM’s BlackBerry DevCon began today in San Francisco, and while the event goes until Oct. 20, the company made some of its biggest announcements this morning, unveiling its next generation operating system, BBX.
The OS will be compatible with tablets, phones and embedded devices, claimed Dan Dodge, the founder of QNX, the PlayBook’s current OS. Dodge stressed that security is the first agenda for RIM, as BBX will support Security Certification EAL4+, IEE, POSIX certification, and IEC 61508 Safety (SIL3). Meanwhile, Dodge also displayed a UI developed by RIM-acquired The Astonishing Tribe, which will be responsible for BBX’s Cascades UI Framework for advanced graphics.
BBX will support 2D and 3D gaming, as Dodge demonstrated with games like Dead Space, Let’s Golf, Need for Speed, and Tomb Raider. Developers will be able to code using regular C++ and then bring their apps to BBX using RIM’s developer toolkit. Any WebWorks and HTML5 apps developed for current BlackBerry devices will work on BBX, as well as software developed with Native SDK and Adobe AIR/Flash.
New features of the latest interface include a gallery app – which users can use with two fingers to pull up or down while new photographs fall from the sky onto a white background – video clips, which will play while you browse, and some visual effects to be layered on top.
As for messages, RIM will compress a visual stream of a unified inbox for email, calls, BBM, SMS, Facebook, and Skype, complete with a dynamic tag cloud. Users will also be able to pinch and zoom to stretch the calendar of communication to see pictures of who you communicated with, when, and through which channel.
RIM also announced the PlayBook 2.0 beta, a developer beta for the tablet that updates its software to version 2.0. It includes BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and the BlackBerry Plug-In for Android Development Tools, which will make it easier for developers to bring Android apps into the BlackBerry environment.
Giving a special nod to those who use BlackBerry devices the most, RIM promised to keep CIO’s data protected with the IT management setup BlackBerry Balance, which will now be coming to the PlayBook. Enterprise users will also have a corporate-friendly section in BlackBerry App World, where a “Work” tab will offer a section titled “Your Company’s App Catalog” to sort the personal apps from the professional. Users will be able to update, delete, or check the version number of a Work-specific app without searching through their personal apps as well.
As a way of assuaging the concerns of any early adopters of RIM’s BlackBerry tablet, Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO of RIM, ended his segment of the announcement by promising that the company is “absolutely committed to the BlackBerry PlayBook.”