updated 09:20 am EDT, Mon May 2, 2011
BlackBerry PlayBook gets video chat and Facebook
RIM as part of its BlackBerry World intro detailed plans for two major apps to help round out the feature set for the BlackBerry PlayBook. The tablet is now finally getting an official Video Chat app that will let owners make two way calls between other PlayBook owners on Wi-Fi. Calls can handle both front and back cameras and, like FaceTime, can take incoming calls without having the app running.
The friends list here is tied to a BlackBerry ID but separate from regular BlackBerry contacts due partly to the lack of a native contacts app. Owners can still set the system to a "do not disturb" mode that will ignore calls when involved in something else.
The Facebook app provides a more optimized view of the social network that can use all of its media and live features, including photos and even 1080p video viewing. Media playback is optimized for the HDMI video out, Facebook said. Both Facebook Chat and full friend interaction should work.
Video Chat will be available on May 3, while the finished Facebook app should be available sometime later in the month.
The Video Chat component is significant for RIM, which has been criticized by many for including the dual cameras but omitting one of the more important, promised features. Apple and Google both consider video chat important on their respective tablet platforms and made sure to include it on launch. RIM is widely known to have rushed the PlayBook to stores to have a competitor to the iPad on shelves even though it lacked both video chat as well as e-mail, a calendar, and other important apps.