BlackBerry Widgets

As some of you may have read, RIM recently released a brand new SDK for BlackBerry Developers. This SDK consisted of the tools needed in order to make "BlackBerry Widgets". Widget is a term we have heard used many times before in regards to the BlackBerry Smartphone platform, but this is the first time will we get to see the fulll implementation of what exactly it means to BlackBerry.

With the release of the SDK came a lot of questions - specifically revolving around the fact that users wanted to be sure these widgets were not just simply web launchers or browser homescreen links. After having spoken with Mike Kirkup, Director Of Developer Relations at RIM, I can gladly say this is not the case.

BlackBerry Widgets are something all developers should be excited about. The SDK is opening the doors to to make use of new ideas and new services which have never been available before now. This is a great time to be a BlackBerry Developer. These advancements have been a long time coming and are greatly needed.

Now, this is exciting for developer and end users alike. Developers get to harness the power of tools such as CSS, HTML, SQLite and finally, Google Gears and Javascript, and place it all in line with the BlackBerry OS. But as an end user what does this mean? It means nice, visually pleasing, feature-rich widgets on your BlackBerry that act more like applications and an integrated part of the OS.

One example would be installing a developer made widget of your favorite website on your device, opening that widget and getting the content you want pushed directly to your BlackBerry screen, all without having to pull open your web browser and refresh to see the latest news, sport scores or what have you.

It means taking your Google address book, making a widget out of it and having it appear on your device, just as it would have if you had sat at your PC and viewed it from there, because all of the tools used to create that address book are available to be used on your BlackBerry. (Think of the gmail mobile app and how it looks)nThe possibilites for feature-rich content, anything from video applications to chat applications, are endless now due to the platform integration being offered here. My examples are set up on a small scale and I'm sure many of you have much better ideas then I have outlined (I have heard some great ones already) but for the sake of simplicity I offer these.

Recently there has been increasing talk of how badly the BlackBerry OS needs a refresh. I myself have mentioned it on numerous occasions on the CrackBerry podcast. This is RIM's answer to that need as I see it, and while it may not be the drastic change that some have been hoping for, it is indeed a change that is for the greater good, and I look forward to seeing what RIM and developers can make of this innovation.