During BlackBerry World 2011 we had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Smith, Sr. Director of the BlackBerry Development Platform, and Rasmus and Karl from the The Astonishing Tribe, to get a look at how RIM plans to utilize TAT's creativity on the PlayBook AND ALSO make the technology that enables the creativity available to 3rd party developers via the PlayBook's Native Development Kit so they too can create PlayBook apps with stellar effects in minimal time. Be sure to watch the video above to get filled in on all the details and see some basic demonstrations of how developers will be able to benefit from TAT.
If you're not familiar with The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), they are known worldwide as being the leading gurus of user interface design and we've seen plenty of examples of their creativity in app demos that show off just mind blowing effects (see examples). To allow them to turn their ideas into reality quickly, TAT developed a proprietary engine that allows them to pump out these effects quickly. With the engine built, they can do with minimal lines of code what it would take a developer an insane amount of code to accomplish.
RIM acquired TAT in December 2010 and since then the team has been working exclusively on bringing their tools and design talents to BlackBerry. Though they arrived at RIM with the PlayBook project well underway, we've already seen some instances on the PlayBook's OS and apps where TAT's technology has been put to work. Within the Pictures app, TAT technology enables the fade out transition between photos and smooth scrolling when sliding through. TAT technology is in the calculator app as well as the newly-released Scrapbook app that features a ton of animations and a super smooth experience. We can defintiely expect to see a lot more TAT influence come to the PlayBook's OS and native apps in the months ahead.
Beyond the OS and native apps getting the PlayBook treatment, RIM plans to make much of TAT's engine for creating these powerful effects available to third party developers via their NDK. Instead of developers having to code these effects for themselves, they will be built into the NDK so that developers can easily utilize them (vs. coding they more simply just have to control the parameters). The NDK is still evolving so we're not sure yet as to exactly how many TAT effects will be there for developers to use, but it definitely appears RIM wants to make it easy for native developers to make apps as cool as those we've seen from TAT. In our demo we were shown an accelerometer-controlled 3D contact list effect as well as a news app with smooth popups and a spinning globe effect that was just awesome.
Again, be sure to check out the video above for more details and keep it locked to CrackBerry - hopefully we'll have more updates here over the weeks and months ahead as we get close to BlackBerry DevCon in the fall. All in all, this is really great news for PlayBook developers and just awesome news for PlayBook owners.