updated 03:25 pm EDT, Tue October 18, 2011
RIM gives devs PlayBook OS 2.0 and full native SDK
RIM in kicking off the start of BlackBerry DevCon on Tuesday gave BlackBerry developers their first beta of PlayBook OS 2.0. The new version focuses on the framework first and supports the new Runtime for Android to load repackaged Android apps on the tablet. A matching plugin for Android development tools helps developers write or convert apps, including giving them an emulator to show what the app would be like on the seven-inch screen.
Underneath, the new PlayBook build now handles Adobe's Flash 11 as well as apps based on the matching offline framework, AIR 3.0. Along with support for full 3D using WebGL, it lets web-based apps get more access to the hardware.
Those working on any version of the PlayBook OS now have access to the long-promised, completed native SDK. Developers can now write games and other performance-intensive apps that need low-level access to the hardware instead of the overhead of Flash or WebWorks code. A lack of fast-running apps and games has been considered one of the biggest drawbacks to the platform, which doesn't have the range of apps of iOS or Android.
As a final gesture, RIM tackled the difficulty of getting open-source apps on to the PlayBook by greating a Github and the BlackBerry Open Source Initiative. The effort is porting open-source engines for apps, games, and media, even including Nokia's Qt as well as OpenAL and SDL, to the usually closed platform. RIM even has its own native gaming framework known as GamePlay.
The gestures get RIM much closer to its goals but may still disappoint actual end users. RIM had said that it wanted to ship PlayBook 2.0 to users soon after DevCon but didn't give a date for it at the event. Many of the promised features, such as the repeatedly delayed native e-mail and BlackBerry Messenger, haven't been shown in public.