Another new feature is built in DRM (digital rights management) and the ability to access DRM data from an application. In the past, DRM was a touchy issue, because people didn't like the idea of having limited rights (including copying) of the data on their computers. However, with mobile devices, DRM has become the norm, especially with mobile music. Still, corporations have a need for DRM, too, especially when devices might be carrying sensitive, private corporate data.
At press time, the information on what is available in terms of DRM for the new API is limited, so I'm limited on what I can report here. The API documentation says: "Applications can now install certificates on DRM protected content." The API includes an interface called DRMRightsInstallCallback, a class called DRMManager, and an exception called DRMException. Hopefully we'll find out more about this soon enough.
Although not everybody is aware of it, many mobile phones today have GPS devices built into them. However, most phones that have GPS don't allow software applications to access data from the GPS. The BlackBerry Storm is an exception. A user can access the data from the GPS right from within the application.
The ability to access the GPS isn't new with the latest version of the SDK. However, RIM has enhanced the access just a bit. Previously users could access the GPS information using a Location API. Now they can get information about the GPS hardware itself (such as whether the GPS detects if a satellite is in view, and even-believe it or not-if the GPS hardware is permanently dead).
The API documentation lists a whole set of interfaces and classes that have changed since the previous version. The documentation also lists in its overview several interesting changes. The overview mentions a nice change where an application can register itself as a "Send To" recipient that will appear in the popup menu when the user snaps a photo with the built-in camera. If a developer is creating an application that processes camera images, that can come in handy.
The API reference also includes updates to some of the GUI elements (such as TextBox and GameCanvas), allowing greater integration with the new touchscreen. The latter, GameCanvas, is updated through the new BlackBerryGameCanvas class, allowing developers to create games that can be controlled through the touchscreen, something that people who like games will likely appreciate.
This update is a minor version update, coming after version 4.6.0. As such, it's not a huge update. Instead, it adds programmatic access to the new features that are available in the newer devices. These features focus primarily on the touchscreen and the accelerometer. To see the full list of changes to the API, click here.
Senior Editor Jeff Cogswell can be reached at jeffrey.cogswell@ZiffDavisEnterprise.com.