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RIM Unveils Next-Generation BBX OS, Releases PlayBook OS 2 for Developers

Today at DevCon, RIM took the wraps off its next-gen operating system, BBX. Based on the same QNX core as the BlackBerry Tablet OS first seen on the PlayBook, the new operating system promises compatibility with a number of open source libraries so developers can build apps quickly, without a huge learning curve.

"BBX combines the best of BlackBerry with the Best of QNX," said RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis. "It'll be for phones, it'll be for tablets, and it'll be for those millions of embedded devices we use everyday," echoed  Dan Dodge of QNX. 

The new operating system supports a slew of open standards including POSIX, HTML 5, and hundreds of open source libraries. By supporting open standards, RIM hopes to make it easy for developers to port apps over from other platforms without a lot of additional investment of time and money.

RIM  also announced it is releasing a developer beta of PlayBook OS 2.0 today. The new version of the tablet OS will incorporate support for Adobe AIR 3.0 and a runtime for Android apps. You can upgrade your existing PlayBook to the new OS by visiting this page on RIM's site.

After announcing the new OS, Lazaridis showed off a number of key features made possible by the open standards support in both PlayBook OS and BBX.

Gaming on BlackBerry

Dodge and Lazaridis called up a couple of game developers to show off their titles they had ported to BlackBerry's PlayBook. The developers explained that porting their games to BlackBerry was very easy, because of the operating system's support of open standards.

HTML 5 Support: A Bridge Between BBX and Older BB OSes

Lazaridis said that BlackBerry products will have the "best HTML 5 implementation in the world" and that HTML 5 apps will provide a bridge between older BlackBerry OSes and BBX. RIM Product Manager George Steikos also showed how HTML 5 apps enable rich experiences both in offline apps and websites. He also demoed the a webGL animation on a PlayBook for the first time.

Cascades UI Framework

BBX will include the Cascades framework for building compelling 3D interfaces with just a few lines of code. At today's keynote, RIM demoed a compelling photo gallery app that was written in Cascades.

Enhanced Security Features for PlayBook

Alan Panezic, VP of Enterprise Product Management and Marketing at RIM, talked about the consumerization of IT and the need for companies to keep data secure in an environment where users have one device for work and personal use. He showed a PlayBook that had been provisioned for enterprise security.  When using personal apps, the PlayBook functioned normally, but when he tapped a business app, he was presented with a password challenge. The business app ran without requiring a VPN connection of any kind.

Panezic also showed how IT managers can control which apps are available for download from BlackBerry App World. He said that PlayBook OS 2.0 will have a Work tab in App World, where corporate-approved apps are located. In the PlayBook's control panel, users will also see a "Mandatory" label next to corporate apps that cannot be uninstalled.

Panezic and Lazaridis also showed Citrix receiver running on the PlayBook and accessing a full Windows desktop on a remote PC. The PlayBook was even able to access a PowerPoint presentation.