RIM PlayBook Gets Video Chat, Facebook Apps

RIM introduced its BlackBerry PlayBook Video Chat application and Facebook for BlackBerry PlayBook app here at BlackBerry World May 2. The apps are coming over the air in a QNX upgrade.

ORLANDO, Fla.-Research In Motion May 2 rolled out native video chat and Facebook applications for its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet at the BlackBerry World developer's conference here.

RIM's new PlayBook launched April 19 to tepid reviews from mobile device experts, but sales of the 7-inch tablet are reportedly solid, if unspectacular, out of the gate.

While Apple's iPad set the bar high for tablet debuts, selling millions of units in its opening day, analysts believe the PlayBook sold 50,000 units its first day. The new PlayBook apps are intended to appeal to consumers and enterprise workers alike.

The BlackBerry PlayBook Video Chat application lets users make and receive video calls between PlayBook tablets over a WiFi connection, while the Facebook app is optimized for the PlayBook's 7-inch high-resolution and LCD display.

Both apps are available as part of the PlayBook's new 1.0.3 version of its QNX operating system, which will be available as an over-the-air upgrade May 3, said Alan Panezic, vice president of software for RIM.

Panezic said the apps join the more than 3,000 apps developed exclusively for the PlayBook in the BlackBerry App World store, which has faced criticism from developers, who find it difficult to work with RIM's market.

The PlayBook Video Chat app offers users one-click video calls from their Video Chat contact list or their log of recent calls, or by entering the BlackBerry ID email address of the person they want to call.

Like Skype, Google Talk and other video chat apps, users will receive a notification pop-up when a new video call comes in, and may also set the "Do Not Disturb" option to let the PlayBook ignore incoming calls.

Users may also preview their own video image before placing a call so they have an idea how they will be viewed by the person they call, and switch cameras from front to rear so their friends can see what they are seeing.

The Video Chat app will be sent over-the-air to existing BlackBerry PlayBook customers May 3, and will also be available for download on BlackBerry App World.

The PlayBook Facebook app lets PlayBook users view and add friends from a grid view of profile pictures and pages; comment and "like" pictures on those profile pages; access and update their News Feed; and use Facebook Chat with notifications appearing in the notifications bar of the slate.

Users may also upload photos from the BlackBerry PlayBook Picture Library, tag friends in photos, and connect to an HD TV to display Facebook photos and videos in full 1080p HD.

While the Facebook for BlackBerry PlayBook application will be showcased this week at the show here, it won't be available on BlackBerry App World until later this month.

The PlayBook apps were introduced an hour after RIM officials revealed the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 smartphones, the first smartphones running the company's new BlackBerry 7 OS.