BlackBerry unveils new ‘developer friendly’ OS, BBX

BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) has unveiled its next generation operating system BBX, which it claims takes the best of the BlackBerry platform and the best of the QNX platform to connect people, devices, content and services.

The ailing smartphone giant unveiled the new OS at its ongoing Devcon Americas 2011 conference, where it is attempting to convince developers that its platforms are still worthwhile investments.

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Among the features lauded by RIM on BBX is an all new BlackBerry Cascades UI Framework for advanced graphics.

The Canadian company hopes the user interface will result in “a new breed of design centric mobile applications”.

The OS will reportedly also bring “Super App” capabilities to enable many advanced capabilities including deep integration between apps, always-on Push services, the BBM Social Platform, and much more.

RIM claims that the OS will support applications developed using any of the tools available today for the BlackBerry PlayBook — including Native SDK (software development kit), Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps — on future BBX-based tablets and smartphones.

BBX will reportedly also support BlackBerry cloud services and development environments for both HTML5 and native developers.

Developers appear to have been at the forefront of RIM’s thinking with the new OS. A whole slew of developer tools were released to go with BBX.

These tools include WebWorks for smartphones and tablets, the Native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook and a developer beta of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 with support for running Android applications.

The last of these is particularly significant as RIM has faced criticism in the past for the pitifully low number of apps in its App World.

The company’s decision to allow support for Android is likely a response to such criticism. Clues that this might be the case lie in the company’s statement that it “will continue to expand its involvement in the Open Source community to help increase developer productivity on the BlackBerry platforms”.

“With nearly 5-million BlackBerry apps downloaded daily, our customers have made BlackBerry one of the most profitable platforms for developers,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at RIM. “At DevCon today, we’re giving developers the tools they need to build richer applications and we’re providing direction on how to best develop their smartphone and tablet apps as the BlackBerry and QNX platforms converge into our next generation BBX platform.”

At the conference, RIM announced a host of improvements to a number of its existing products developer products, including WebWorks, support for Adobe Air 3.0, and the native SDK.

It also made available a developer’s beta of the Playbook OS 2.0. There was no indication, however, as to whether this would be followed by the announcement of a new version of RIM’s tablet offering.

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