RIM Launches BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 With Native E-mail, Android Apps


Research In Motion (RIM) launched Tuesday BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, the next-generation mobile operating system for its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

The new OS is said by the company to offer built-in e-mail, a larger app portfolio that borrows from Android, and tighter integration with social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Perhaps the most long-awaited update seen with PlayBook OS 2.0 is its delivery of native e-mail, calendar, and contacts apps. Unlike its predecessor BlackBerry PlayBook OS 1.0 -- which required users to manually transfer these apps from their BlackBerry smartphones to their PlayBook via the Bridge BlackBerry application -- the PlayBook OS 2.0 delivers these apps built-in. RIM said the BlackBerry Bridge app can now be used as a remote control feature that allows a BlackBerry smartphone to be used as a wireless keyboard and mouse for a the PlayBook.

The new OS also provides a unified inbox that can host both work and personal e-mails, along with all messages from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The revamped calendar and contact apps can pull information from these social networking sites automatically to keep contact cards and events up-to-date.

RIM’s app ecosystem – which has been criticized by consumers and solution providers alike for not being built-up enough -- also underwent a makeover with the new PlayBook OS 2.0. Starting Tuesday, RIM said it would be adding “thousands” of new apps to its BlackBerry App World store, including a range of Android apps for the PlayBook.

“We are excited to now offer approximately 10,000 applications specifically for PlayBook, including leading applications like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Citrix, Groupon, Thomson Reuters, Zinio and many more,” said RIM spokesperson Jamie Ernst.

Ernst declined to specify how many Android applications will be available to PlayBook OS 2.0 users.

"Only Android applications that have been ported over to the BlackBerry PlayBook platform, and submitted/approved for BlackBerry App World will work on the PlayBook,” he said. “We aren’t breaking out the specific numbers for Android applications that have been ported over to the PlayBook platform."

BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, which is available for download from BlackBerry App World Tuesday, also delivers updated document editing functions, a new Print To Go app, and BlackBerry Balance, a solution that secures and separates personal data from enterprise data when hosting both on a single device.

RIM’s grip on the smartphone market has loosened dramatically over the past year due to increased competition from Apple and Google within its enterprise customer base.

Seemingly aware of this, RIM also said it will launch its previously announced BlackBerry Mobile Fusion mobile device management solution next month, which will support not only BlackBerry devices in corporate environments but iOS and Android ones as well.