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BlackBerry 6.1 Application Platform Announced at DevCon Asia!

BlackBerry 6.1 Appliation Platform
By Kevin Michaluk on 12 Jan 2011 10:42 pm EST
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At the General Session Keynote on the opening day of BlackBerry DevCon Asia, Tyler Lessard, VP of Global Alliances and Developer Relations for RIM, announced the coming of the new BlackBerry 6.1 Application Platform for BlackBerry Smartphones. 6.1 will build upon BlackBerry 6 and for developers will introduce some new features they can take advantage of. The image above tells the story. New tools/APIs include:

  • Magnetometer / Digital compass APIs
  • Open GL-ES 2.0
  • Window API (overlay native app surfaces)
  • Event-based geo-fencing location APIs
  • Enhancement to barcode API's for additional formats and custom decoding
  • and MUCH MORE
Tyler went on to say that BlackBerry Developer Tools 6.1 will be available soon for download as they want developers working with the new tools leading up to the release of BlackBerry 6.1 in the next quarter or two. Reading between the lines, I think this announcement really says a lot. It shows us that despite a ton of effort going into the BlackBerry Tablet OS used on the PlayBook, RIM is continuing to develop the traditional BlackBerry OS. I think it's also safe to assume that we'll be seeing a BlackBerry 6.1 update coming to current in-market BlackBerry 6 Smartphones. Finally, it gives us a clue as to what OS is going to ship on the next generation of BlackBerry Smartphone hardware. RIM's Founder and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has already gone on record saying that we will see BlackBerry Smartphones (aka super phones) that will make use of the QNX-based operating system found in the PlayBook, but that it might not be tomorrow as the hardware needs to get there (need a phone battery than can last a day powering dual core processors). Now officially knowing that BlackBerry 6.1 is on the way, to me it's looking like we can expect the next wave of new BlackBerry Smartphones to rock 6.1 (maybe a generation after that will hit the phones). It's clear that the BlackBerry Tablet OS is still very young and will take some time for RIM to evolve it to be ready for the phones, so in the meantime BB6.1 will get the job done. That's not official of course, but logically it's making sense. I'm sure we'll learn more in the weeks and months ahead!

Reader comments

BlackBerry 6.1 Application Platform Announced at DevCon Asia!

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It's really not all about hardware specs, but they certainly do add to the experience. Yeah, dual-core CPU's would be great, but I think at this point, almost all of us would simply be happy with even an 800mhz or 1ghz single core chip.

I don't need the best of the best, but it would be nice if my Bold 9650 was capable of rendering a desktop page without lagging super hardcore. I'm running OS6 and it's great an all, but the hardware is really too slow. We don't need the best, but I'm basically running a Bold 9000 with more ram, it's still slow.

I think it's the software that's holding back the speed more than the hardware..i.e. RIM's aging platform.

I'd just be happy if Verizon would get off their big red asses and release 6.0 for the 9650. Yeah I know Sprint released it, but I want it for MY carrier.

It's just typical Verizon behavior:(. Terrible customer service, they think since they're the biggest carrier they can get away with waiting to give customers the best. Plus, BBs have taked a back seat due to the Droid phones. That's why I switched to At&t, better customer service plus they still provide great support for BB customers despite having the iPhone.

I think either Lazardis and RIM are missing the point that they need a SMART PHONE that hits a home run running on the latest and greatest (QNX) not...OS6.1 (AKA OS 5 "version B") or they love screwing with their consumer and business customers. However...I believe more and more its the former. My hope for true innovation from RIM and truly taking on Apple, Google and the others is beginning to wane some.

u think RIM is screwing their customers....i was a loyal blackberry customer and i didnt know about getting screwed over when it comes to updates before I had my experience with samsung and the Epic 4G. Now im stuck with it and cant go back to my blackberry......

In fact they are building a new mobile platform, a mobile OS could take anywhere between 2-3 years from start to finish, android was in development for more than 3 years before it saw the light and similarly Microsoft took 18 months to revamp their OS and their core still is old Windows 6.5 and still it is not complete yet, so did Palm, it took 2 complete years to build their webOS on top another acquired OS called BeOS (a QNX contemporary).

RIM's legacy software was baked in for the last 10 years and it has enormous business functions and needs a lot of planning for integration, the decision making and planning only could take months if not years although implementation shouldn't take long enough when they have a design in place. We need to understand QNX tablet OS is still in infancy and a lot of things are being worked out for the release, also there might other groups/teams in RIM working in parallel on parts of the QNX mobile OS like onboard encryption, BES/BIS integration, UI (TaT, Apps etc but still their efforts could bear fruit only towards the year end or may be next year as it takes time to integrate all these parts and QA them. Building a capable device design and reference might be another task running in parallel, I hope QNX phone prototypes exist at RIM.

After all OS 6 is not that bad, it has everything that a modern OS needs and now OS 6.1 has even more. OS 6 is set to stay here for sometime even after they launch QNX mobile OS and may be until the 3G/4G fully evolves all across the world. So give them benefit of doubt and enjoy BB while you can ;)

Couldn't agree with you more.

When RIM announced QNX phones are a ways out... well, that put me looking into other options.

Now that RIM is releasing a new OS 6.x, it shows me it's time to leave. I don't even have an upgrade path for my Storm2... not on the OS side, or on a new phone side. I wanted a touchscreen smart BB phone. I settled for the Storm, and Storm2, and well... fool me once, fool me twice... but not a third time.

OS5 and OS6 already support OpenGL, provided the hardware does. OS6.1 will be the same. OpenGL available for phones with GPUs.

The Marvell chip RIM loves so much that's in every 3G GSM BlackBerry (9000 to Torch and everything inbetween) doesn't support OpenGL. Hopefully they'll finally introduce a new chip.

Sorry, with reading all the comments I'm now a bit confused. (I'm sick also so please give me a little slack.)
So the Torch doesn't support openGL? I thought that the Torch had UMTS and that encompassed the CDMA network. Sorry, I'm not very tech savvy so would like clarification please.

UMTS is a part of the GSM (ATT, T_Mobile etc.) 3G standards. CDMA (Verizen, Sprint etc.) use a differing mobile phone technology, so the chipsets required in their phones are made by a different company to different specs that for GSM phones. OpenGL hardware support just happens to be supported in the CDMA chipsets but not the GSM ones as yet.

GSM is the majority global standard and requires a SIM card to work, where as CDMA phones have an ESN code and no SIM card to work.

This was quick and dirty, but I suggest a good read of Wikipedia if you interested In the differences between GSM and CDMA.

I think there will be hardware upgrades and hopefully we can get some type of sign of the next blackberry...all this playbook stuff!. Can we just get back to the phones for a few minutes.

The biggest complaints can be addressed without jumping to QNX for phones.

Just give us a new CPU (at least 800 Mhz. They actually have 800 Mhz processors that out perform 1 ghz processors. Ex. T-Mobile's G2)
Up the screen res. And up the apps!

Basically what RIM needs to do is stop doing so much recycling....

I would love a nex gen Bold with 800MHz-1GHz, 512MB RAM, 1GB Flash, Blackberry OS 6.1, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi; with maybe dual camera or or at least a very nice 5MP with fast shutter capable of nice shots in the dark. Push the screen resolution up and make it touchscreen (again a BOLD not a Torch) and I would go and buy it right away...

The new camera settings for the camera in OS 6.0 already have the ability to take photos in low light. When I take pictures in low light situations, objects in the view finder would be somewhat dark. The Low Light setting will appear on the screen. After the picture is taken, it will automatically adjust it and the picture would come out a lot lighter. As for the shutter speed, I agree. It needs to be faster. Perhaps they can add a Sports Scene like that of the Torch.

I still need to check the OS 6.0 on the 9700 so I can't say, but on OS5 anything without perfect lighting and perfect pulse will result in a blurry picture. So I would love to actually be able to take pictures with it and not worry about carrying another camera on some cases.

Well its about time we had some proper Smartphone news and this is a little exciting something to look forward too :) on our current OS 6 devices. Hopefully its coming really soon all fine tuned and ready to ride. We shall see RIM I still love you.

I'm hoping this will make it easier for developers to develop apps for BlackBerry devices.
As I visit more and more sites, there is always an iPhone app in place of the site's mobile platform. Especially many news sites I visit. Now I'm starting to see Androids added to the list as well. BlackBerry is always left off. If they do add BlackBerry, it's usually an app launcher to the mobile site. I'm hoping this brings about a change in the right direction.

youre comments about a decent battery to power any new device seem unimportant amid the hue and cry for the latest jam packed full of features phones,but its paramount and fundamental to the device.i had an android phone last year and the battery didnt last a whole day before it died,needless to say for that reason i got rid of it inside 2 weeks.i just bought a bold 9780 running os6,my first blackberry so i cant compare the os with an older version,so from my point of view the os 6 is brilliant everything is where i need it without wondering how do i do this or that or the next thing.more so,the battery,is brilliant.you have no idea the relief of having a a great phone and not have to worry about the battery for at least 2 or 3 days.the more i learn about blackberry and rim,which i am from team crackberry,the more i like my choice,the whole community the not pandering to the fashion concious must have the latest hi tec phone that can do everything but put your clothes on in the mornin.in saying that,id love a new device running the qnx os,who wouldnt.i look forward to getting 6.1 when its available here for me,i wouldnt have any other phone,blackberrys are ace and easy to take for granted,the grass isnt greener on the other side.

This is what we need.

Blackberry Life 10000

800x600 resolution
2.8" touch screen with Gorilla Glass©
1.2GHz dual core Cpu (MSM8660)
2Gb RAM
32Gb Internal Storage and microSD support for a additional 32Gb (64gb combined)
8 Megapixel Rear Camera with auto focus and 4x Digital zoom and Flash
3.2 Front Facing Camera
Full Qwerty Keyboard
Trackpad for Navigating
Side mounted Pico Projector
2350 mAH Battery
Eight axis Accelerometer
G-Sensor
Digital Compass
OS 6.1
Open GL support
Adobe 10.1
HTML 5
Size 4.48x2.6x0.69 in (114x66x17.5 mm)
Weight 5.71 oz (160 g)

Price estimate, $800 retail, $299 AT&T (with 2 year contract), $399 Rogers (with 3 Year Commitment).

Edit:

Size 4.48x2.6x0.58 in (114x66x14.75 mm)
Weight 5 oz (140 g)

Also with a Built in Induction Charger on Back Cover

I'd appreciate if they finally released that sdk for themes for os 6 so people can start customizing their homescreens/get rid of unneedes ones .. all those tabs are nonsense

Considering all they just did for the playbook at CES, I don't understand the strategy here. They are showing off that they can do with QNX and how easy it is to build on etc. Then they are releasing not only a new update for OS6 but now it is clear thatnthe "next gen" hardware to be released at BBW in may will be running this and not QNX.

This all just seems poorly planned by RIM. Why would app developers really invest in BB now? You have 2 very diffrent platforms now, and there is no sense of when this all gets merged. I am starting to think they would have been better serverd by not showing the world the playbook. Get 6.1 out and new phones at CES then introduce the playbook at BBW, release it at dev con and then have qnx phones at CES in 2012. QNX would be much more final when seen and would not wet peoples appetites.

All this says to me is stay away from BB and chwck back in a few years.

It seems to me that RIM has decided it can't and won't compete with Apple or Google. It seems like they are content with growing there global reach and also catering to their core consumers in North America. It is a solid strategy, but I fear eventually what has happened to RIM in North America, will happen to them throughout the world if they don't start bumping the specs of the devices up. The iphone is coming to China, I'm sure it will continue to grow globally as will Android. At some point RIM is going to have to compete in both hardware and software in order to stay viable. It maybe too late in North America.

I'm think RIM's OS and hardware are pretty complimentary. You don't need a 1GHz processor to run the BBOS, and I'm glad they didn't put in such a powerful chip just because. I think RIM is the only company that has balanced performance, efficiency and battery life well with their phones, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. With a BB, you get more things done faster and more efficiently than with the iOS or android.

I'm just wondering whether and if, Torch & Bold3 users with 6.0 pre-loaded would embrace 6.1 or would there be technical difficulties considering the given specs owners have!! Inputs anyone!?