RIM’s next-gen OS BBX combines best of QNX and BlackBerry

18 Oct 2011

Research in Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis

Research in Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has revealed the new operating system for BlackBerry called BBX, which he says will combine the best of QNX with the BlackBerry OS.

The company says it will also make a beta of its PlayBook OS 2.0 available to developers. RIM’s PlayBook tablet is powered by QNX.

RIM announced a series of developer tool updates, including WebWorks for BlackBerry 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.

RIM also provided direction for developers on how to best develop and monetise their BlackBerry applications for today and for the future.

“With nearly 5m 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,” Lazaridis said.

BlackBerry BBX

The BBX platform will include BBX-OS, and will support BlackBerry cloud services and development environments for both HTML5 and native developers.

BBX will also support applications developed using any of the tools available today for the BlackBerry PlayBook – including Native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps – on future BBX-based tablets and smartphones.

BBX will also include the new BlackBerry Cascades UI Framework for advanced graphics (shown for the first time today), and 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.

BlackBerry WebWorks

Developers who want to support both existing smartphones (running BlackBerry 6 and BlackBerry 7 OS) and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets can monetise apps on both platforms today with BlackBerry WebWorks, which supports apps built on HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

The latest release, BlackBerry WebWorks SDK 2.2 (supporting both smartphones and tablets), is now available and includes updates for the new PlayBook OS SDK, PlayBook Simulator and more.

The BlackBerry WebWorks APIs are supported by the Ripple Emulator, a standalone, high-fidelity browser-like emulation tool that allows developers to test and debug their applications on multiple platforms and devices without having to compile or launch simulators. Starting today, the Ripple Emulator is available in beta and can also be downloaded from RIM’s WebWorks Developer site.

Native SDK

RIM also announced today the immediate availability of the Native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook (1.0 gold release).

The Native SDK allows developers to build high-performance, multi-threaded, native C/C++ applications and enables developers to create advanced 2D and 3D games and other apps with access to OpenGL ES 2.0 and Open AL, as well as device-specific APIs.

Applications developed with the Native SDK will run today on the BlackBerry PlayBook and will be forwardly compatible on BBX-based tablets and smartphones.

The Native SDK includes support for C/C++ POSIX library and compliance, device events like gesture swipes and touchscreen inputs, access to code management systems using industry standard Eclipse CDT (C/C++ development tools) and advanced debug and analysis tools. QNX Momentics Tool Suite, an Eclipse-based integrated development environment, is included. It provides memory profiling, application debugging, and memory usage statistics to help developers debug sophisticated programs, including hardware accelerated OpenGL applications.

The Native SDK makes the development and porting of game applications to the BlackBerry PlayBook an extremely attractive proposition for developers, the company said.

RIM said well-known game publishers, developers and major game engine companies have already started to bring their game titles and applications to the platform.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years