Yesterday Kevin had an opportunity to sit down with Michael Clewley
, one of the Project Managers of the PlayBook team at Research In Motion, about the launch of PlayBook OS 2.0
. Held over video chat on the BlackBerry PlayBook, Kevin asked Michael about not only the launch of the new OS and some of the new features, but also about the future of PlayBook OS 2.0 and where it fits in on the road to BlackBerry 10
. Since then, Kevin has decided that all interviews on CrackBerry should be conducted over video chat, because it rocks! If you didn't get a chance to watch the interview, you'll want to make sure you take the time to do so. However, if you can't commit to almost 27 minutes, we cover the main points for you after the break.
Kevin started off the interview with easy questions, inquiring about the 5 AM release time for the update. Michael explained that by launching at 5 AM EST, it allowed for the update to be officially available on February 21st everywhere in the world; not the 20th in some time zones, the 21st in others. Such a simple explanation and great reasoning behind something that had many forums members puzzled.
Pointing out how fast the update was compared to previous BlackBerry smartphone OS updates, Kevin expressed that it was unbelievable. No need for tutorials, just follow the on-screen instructions, and in two taps you're done. Michael agreed, saying that what he loves most about the software update, aside from it being fast, is that "you don't have to backup and restore your device, it happens all in the background. All your settings are preserved, you don't have to log back in to anything, which is a huge difference compared to what we go through on the BlackBerry OS today.
" Following up on the topic of favorite new features of the OS, Michael revealed that his favorite aspect is that "It's social everywhere. In email, in contacts, in calendar, in video chat. It's that social aspect, the integration is everywhere. I can click on a contact and get more information about that person. I can see your last Twitter updates, when we last met together, company news. It's like having a mini-briefing before you do anything."
Michael is also really excited about the new feature of Video Chat
that allows you to see everybody in your contact list that has a PlayBook. No more guessing if someone has the app, instead OS 2.0 scans your address book and detects BBIDs from email addresses. "It's another great way we can leverage the BlackBerry infrastructure and the NOC from that perspective."
Regarding what current PlayBook owners are sure to love, he mentions the new home screen, and being able to organize apps the way you want them with folders. Also high on the list for both current and future PlayBook owners is the BlackBerry Bridge update. "People are loving that they can use their BlackBerry as a mouse or keyboard for their PlayBook. People are jazzed about it. People really like that they can hook up the PlayBook to their TV and not only watch movies, but play games with their families. It shows how the devices are better together. "
On the subject of apps, Kevin brought up that a lot of people were disappointed when the PlayBook launched, noting that BlackBerry App World wasn't as full as people were hoping. Things are moving along now, the momentum is there as well as some competition between app and game developers. Michael agreed, adding that "We've had a huge influx of applications over the last few weeks heading into the launch of PlayBook OS 2.0. I'm pleased to say we have about 10,000 PlayBook apps in the storefront today, with another 1000 waiting to get approved. There's a huge backlog the team is going through now. Now that OS 2.0 is launched, that backlog is going to stay at a steady rate, based on what we're seeing."
He then went on to explain that PlayBook OS 2.0 is the foundation for what BlackBerry will be for the next decade plus. "It's a native development environment for developers, a strong web platform. I don't know if you've used the browser yet, but it rocks. It's fast, it renders so well. If you take the HTML5 test scores, it's one of the top browsers out there, it is the top tablet browser and mobile browser. The team's done a lot of work to make sure we're up to date with the latest implementations and we're taking advantage of the platform as well."
Toward the end of the interview, Kevin wanted to clarify where exactly PlayBook OS 2.0 fits in to the migration to the BlackBerry 10 platform. Acknowledging that some things people want (for example native BlackBerry Messenger on the PlayBook) are still missing in this launch and that more is coming in the way of applications and features, and that ultimately BlackBerry 10 will be the platform for phones and tablets, he wondered where this release fits in. "Will we be seeing the branding change, will we still see the UI, will more features be added?"
Michael reassured Kevin that this is the foundation for BlackBerry 10, and that a lot of the application platform functionality that's in PlayBook OS 2.0 will continue to be there in BlackBerry 10. "That's a powerful message for developers. It gives them reassurance that they will continue to be successful on the BlackBerry platform. What you're seeing in OS 2.0, the feature set, multitasking, social integration, that's a theme that is going to continue. That communication has always been a strong part of BlackBerry and will continue going forward. This is the start of where we are going."