Research In Motion (RIM) announced today that the new BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 is now available for download. The long awaited new version of the PlayBook OS delivers a set of new features, most of which target the enterprise and most of which catch the PlayBook up to what BlackBerry devices have always delivered.
These features include:
- Integrated email client with a unified inbox: With BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 you have the option to use a unified inbox that consolidates all messages in one place, including messages from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as personal and work email accounts
- Social Integration with Calendar and Contacts apps: The built-in calendar harnesses information from social networks and makes it available where and when users need it. Contact cards are also dynamically populated with updated information from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to create a consolidated view of contacts
- Updated BlackBerry Bridge app: BlackBerry Bridge is a unique app that provides a Bluetooth connection between your BlackBerry PlayBook and core apps on your BlackBerry smartphone (including BBM, Email, Contacts, Calendar and Browser) in order to let you view the content on the larger tablet display. With BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, it should now prove easier to take documents, web pages, emails and photos that appear on a BlackBerry smartphone and display them on a BlackBerry PlayBook for an optimized viewing and editing experience. The updated BlackBerry Bridge app also provides a new remote control feature that allows a BlackBerry smartphone to be used as a wireless keyboard and mouse for a BlackBerry PlayBook
- Improved mobile productivity: Updated document editing functions, the new Print To Go app, and increased control and manageability of corporate data with BlackBerry Balance allow you to get more out of your BlackBerry PlayBook every day. Plus, an updated virtual keyboard with auto correction and predictive next word completion learns how you type to enable faster, more accurate typing
- New apps and content: Thousands of new apps are being added to BlackBerry App World today (including a range of Android apps that will run on the BlackBerry PlayBook). Enhanced web browsing capabilities are also available with BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0.
In conjunction with the release of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, RIM is also making available an initial release of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion that will include support for managing BlackBerry PlayBook tablets and BlackBerry smartphones in an enterprise. The full release of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion (with mobile device management capabilities for iOS and Android devices) is planned for general availability in late March 2012.
Although it has cost RIM a great deal in reputation and user satisfaction to have taken so long to get this next release of the Playbook operating system out the door, it's now time to let the new OS percolate through the ranks of PlayBook users. Will the enhanced features ultimately make much of a difference?
It isn't clear to us at this point that the enhancements will do much to create a significant surge of demand for RIM's tablet. The best measure of this will be in next quarter's sales number, or course, but with Apple slated to deliver the next entirely new version of the iPad in March, one has to wonder if an operating system upgrade will have any impact at all. We hope so.
As noted in other articles on RIM, the upcoming BlackBerry World is the real stage where RIM must deliver an enormously positive user experience - not only in the operating system and in new apps, but most importantly in new devices that excite and truly capture the user's imagination. A few short months from now we'll know.
Let's come back now to what may be the most interesting thing announced today - a host of new Android applications are going up on the BlackBerry App Store, and PlayBook users will be able to run them - supposedly with no performance hits what so ever. Although it remains ironic that BlackBerry PlayBooks can now run the apps from a competitor's OS market, it may yet prove to be a very interesting market play. Good for Android developers certainly - but will it be enough to keep PlayBook users excited? Word of mouth and next quarter's sales will provide the answer to this.