With the release of its BlackBerry 6 platform, Research In Motion also has released a new development environment to help developers build apps that take advantage of the new user enhancements, WebKit browser support and new services the new platform delivers.
RIM has announced a new Java software development kit (SDK) to support BlackBerry 6, the company’s highly anticipated new operating system for BlackBerry smartphones. RIM officials said BlackBerry Java SDK v6.0 takes advantage of new user interface (UI) features and offers deeper integration with BlackBerry smartphones, access to new and enhanced services, and support for rendering and porting content to the new WebKit-based browser.
“The opportunity for developers to create applications that tie to core applications and features of the BlackBerry Application Platform has never been greater,” said David Yach, chief technology officer for software at RIM, in a statement. “Our veteran developers, as well as those who are new to the BlackBerry platform, are going to be thrilled with the new APIs as well as the sleek and powerful user interface.”
Using the new Blackberry Java SDK v6.0, developers can access more than 40 new APIs that enable them to build visually rich and deeply integrated applications that take advantage of the new features in BlackBerry 6, the company said. The new SDK supports the new look in the BlackBerry 6 (UI) with new prebuilt UI elements including contextual menus, tables, lists, inertial scrolling, activity progress indicators, pane managers, tool bars, title bars and submenus.
“At the core of the new BlackBerry Browser is the WebKit rendering engine,” said a RIM staffer identified as Michael on the BlackBerry Developer’s Blog. “WebKit is a high quality open source rendering engine, which is used in many desktop and mobile web browsers. Our Browser development team not only has the WebKit expertise of Torch Mobile (a leading contributor in the WebKit community), but also years of RIM mobile expertise to help ensure that the WebKit engine is optimized for mobile.”
“There is no doubt the new BlackBerry Browser in BlackBerry 6 will be used more frequently than any previous BlackBerry Browser,” said a RIM blogger known as Mike, who is the senior product manager responsible for browser development on BlackBerry 6, in a post on the Inside BlackBerry blog. “Powered by the new WebKit rendering engine, the browsing experience is enjoyable, and the content and applications served to the new browser are graphically rich. To help users make the most of this new experience, we added a few new features to help access and manage more content.”
The new browser features advanced widgets that can be seamlessly integrated with the browser and core native applications. BlackBerry Widgets and Web applications designed for the BlackBerry Browser v 5.0 will be forward compatible to the new browser.
Also, with the added support of HTML5 in the new BlackBerry 6 Browser, Web developers will be able to create content for BlackBerry smartphones that is run through the Web, including compelling games and interactive media with 3D graphics in real time and more.
In addition, developers can use new APIs to more deeply integrate their applications with various aspects of a BlackBerry smartphone’s core functionality, RIM said in its press release announcing the SDK. The Unified Search Framework API enables developers to register their application and their content partners to be searchable, as well as provide a mechanism for in-app search. The Mapfield API has been redesigned to provide enhanced features, including panning, zooming, my location and convenience tool bars. Developers can call the Mapfield API to customize the look of location data and can use multiple mapfields simultaneously on the same screen for added user benefits.
Meanwhile, the Location Service has been enhanced with a WiFi Geolocation API, allowing developers to build applications that leverage a handset’s location based on its proximity to WiFi networks. The API builds on the location-based service (LBS) features already available to developers through cell tower location and GPS. Reverse geocoding now allows applications to leverage ZIP/postal codes to obtain local information. The Travel Time API brings estimated time of arrival (ETA) information into applications. The ETA is based on anonymous real-time crowd-sourced data combined with historical traffic information.
BlackBerry Java SDK v6.0 is available for download at www.blackberry.com/developers/java.