Mobile and Wireless: BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 Debuts with Native Email, New Apps, Video Store
Research In Motion began pushing out its long-awaited PlayBook software upgrade Feb. 21. PlayBook OS 2.0 includes a number of features demanded by users ever since the 7-inch tablet made its debut in April 2011. These include built-in email, calendar and contacts; a variety of new apps; and social-networking integration with calendar and contacts. The BlackBerry Bridge app, which lets users tether a BlackBerry smartphone to their PlayBook-the better to view things on the latter's larger screen-has likewise been updated: Now, a BlackBerry can act as a wireless keyboard and mouse for the PlayBook. Despite anemic sales (in December, RIM cited "competitive dynamics of the tablet market" and the delay of the PlayBook OS 2.0 upgrade as reasons behind a $485 million write-down of its PlayBook inventory), the tablet continues to play a vital role in RIM's current strategy. The tablet's operating system is based on QNX, which the Canadian device-maker acquired in 2010. Later this year, in a bid to reassert its position within the smartphone market, RIM will release a line of so-called "super-phones" running the QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system. RIM is encouraging developers to build apps for the PlayBook in the hope that it'll help create a sizable app ecosystem for BlackBerry 10. In the shorter term, though, RIM's biggest hope is probably that PlayBook OS 2.0 spurs tablet sales. To help readers decide if the PlayBook is for them, eWEEK gave the new OS a proper, hands-on review.