BlackBerry PlayBook 2.1.0 Beta for Developers Launches

Android Development

Today we are releasing a beta of BlackBerry® Tablet OS 2.1.0 for developers to test their applications with. Developers can test using devices or a simulator, and there are some items that I think will be of particular interest.

The WebKit implementation on BlackBerry Tablet OS continues to keep pace with the latest updates to the WebKit project. There are numerous updates included which keep the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet at the forefront for Tablet Browsers in the market, as seen by our HTML5 Test Score (391 and 10 bonus points).

This latest score at html5test.com is a bit out of date, but I’m sure that won’t last long once you’ve got your hands on the beta. The beta is an improvement of 18 points and 1 bonus point over 2.0.1, most due to the inclusion of the FileSystem API.

There are three major enhancements to the Android™ Runtime in 2.1.0:

  • Each Android app will now run in its own window. This greatly improves the user experience and consistency among the other application runtimes.
  • Access to the Camera hardware is now supported for Android apps, allowing many more application types to work on the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet.
  • In-App Payment is now supported through the BlackBerry Payment SDK, so Android applications can include virtual items for sale in their applications.

But wait, there’s more!

There are a couple other items I noticed that I think will appeal to some developers. Full device encryption is now supported, so that the whole device and personal partition can be secure. If you develop an application that deals with sensitive personal information, you may want to include a suggestion to your users that they turn this feature on. Finally, there is a minor update I noticed which developers asked for and will be well received: screenshots are now saved in lossless PNG format. That should help quite a bit when you want to promote your application and add screenshots to the BlackBerry App World™ storefront.

For those of you wandering around the rest of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 beta, you’ll notice a few extra enhancements geared towards end users such as:

  • Portrait support for Email, Calendar and Contacts
  • Improved folder support including IMAP folder support

The other 2.1 features will come full steam when the new OS is commercially released. The 2.1 Android SDK will be released in beta coinciding with the OS release, and the 2.1 Native SDK will be posted next week, with an update to the Adobe® AIR® SDK to come shortly after.

As with any OS update, use this beta period to test your apps now, so that they will be in full working order when the official release comes out.

Head to the website to download the new simulator (for Mac or Windows) and whitelist your device to receive the beta.

About Tim W.

Tim is an Open Source Technical Lead at BlackBerry, focusing on WebWorks, HTML5, and Open Source.

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