RIM aims to bounce back with BB10 platform

Canadian device maker RIM has showcased its BlackBerry 10 platform at its BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida. The firm has also released the initial developer toolkit for native and HTML5 software development.

The firm handed out thousands of prototypes for its next smartphones – Blackberry 10 Dev Alpha –for developers to test the new operating system. Developers can use this first beta of the tools to start building apps for BlackBerry 10 and, as the tools evolve over the coming months, developers will have access to an API set that will allow them to build even more integrated apps, the company said.

The toolkit includes the BlackBerry 10 Native SDK with Cascades, a native application development toolset that allows developers to build visually rich applications without having to write graphics code, in C/C++ or Qt, according to RIM. The Native SDK for BlackBerry 10 has a set of APIs that also gives developers access to a range of BlackBerry application services, such as Push and Payment services.

The toolkit also includes support for HTML5 application developers with the BlackBerry 10 WebWorks SDK, allowing them to create native-like applications using common web programming technologies.

Applications created with any of the BlackBerry 10 tools will run on BlackBerry 10 smartphones as well as RIM’s tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, when the new platform becomes available for it. RIM said that all of the SDKs will be updated to give developers access to more of the BlackBerry 10 unique capabilities over the coming months.

“There is tremendous interest, anticipation and momentum building toward the launch of BlackBerry 10 devices, and today we’re extremely excited to release the BlackBerry 10 developer beta tools for general use,” said Christopher Smith, VP for handheld application platform and tools.

CEO Thorsten Heins said in his keynote at the event that there are opportunities for the platform beyond mobile, and highlighted the automobile industry as a key one, claiming that 60 per cent of cars on the market today are already running on RIM’s QNX platform. At the event, the firm showed off a Porsche with full BB10 integration.

Analysts’ response to RIM’s announcement have been favourable and some commentators are suggesting that the platform could mark strong a comeback from the Canadian firm which suffered a difficult 2011, in which it posted poor financial results, device launches ran behind schedule, the firm suffered major disruptions to its service and its co-CEOs resigned.

Gartner research director Michael Gartenberg took to Twitter to voice how impressed he was by the platform.

“Camera feature allows you to rewind and capture part of the photo as intended – shows RIM is thinking a lot about details and not just feeds and speeds,” he wrote. “Fast and accurate typing. Personal tailored keyboard learns how you type. It looks very nice, is optimized for one had typing as well. Very nicely done.”

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