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RIM unveils new developer platform

BlackBerry BBX combines existing BlackBerry platform with QNX

RIM unveils new developer platform
Research in Motion unveils new developer platform.

Research In Motion has unveiled its new BlackBerry BBX next generation mobile platform at BlackBerry DevCon Americas 2011.

The new platform combines the existing BlackBerry platform with the QNX platform.

RIM has also announced a series of developer tool updates, including WebWorks for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets, the Native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook and a developer beta of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 with support for running Android applications.

"With nearly five million BlackBerry apps downloaded daily, our customers have made BlackBerry one of the most profitable platforms for developers," said Mike Lazaridis, president and Co-CEO at RIM. "At DevCon today, we're giving developers the tools they need to build richer applications and we're providing direction on how to best develop their smartphone and tablet apps as the BlackBerry and QNX platforms converge into our next generation BBX platform."

The BBX platform will include BBX-OS, and will support BlackBerry cloud services and development environments for both HTML5 and native developers.

BBX is also designed to support applications developed using any of the tools available for the BlackBerry PlayBook, including Native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps - on future BBX-based tablets and smartphones.

BBX will also include the new BlackBerry Cascades UI Framework for advanced graphics and is designed to bring "Super App" capabilities to enable advanced capabilities including deep integration between apps, always-on Push services and the BBM Social Platform.

BlackBerry WebWorks is designed for developers who want to support both existing smartphones running BlackBerry 6 and BlackBerry 7 OS and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

Developers can monetise apps on both platforms with BlackBerry WebWorks, which is designed to support apps built on HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. The latest release, BlackBerry WebWorks SDK 2.2 is now available and includes updates for the new PlayBook OS SDK and PlayBook Simulator.

The BlackBerry WebWorks APIs are supported by the Ripple Emulator, a standalone, browser-like emulation tool that is designed to allow developers to test and debug their applications on multiple platforms and devices without having to compile or launch simulators.

RIM also announced the availability of the Native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook, which is designed to allow developers to build high-performance, multi-threaded, native C/C++ applications and enable them to create advanced 2D and 3D games and other apps with access to OpenGL ES 2.0 and Open AL, as well as device specific APIs. Applications developed with the Native SDK can run on the BlackBerry PlayBook and will be forwardly compatible on BBX-based tablets and smartphones.

The Native SDK features support for C/C++ POSIX library and compliance, device events like gesture swipes and touch screen inputs, access to code management systems using industry standard Eclipse CDT (C/C++ Development Tools) and advanced debug and analysis tools.

The QNX Momentics Tool Suite, an Eclipse-based integrated development environment, is included.

The Suite is designed to provide memory profiling, application debugging, and memory usage statistics to help developers debug sophisticated programs, including hardware accelerated OpenGL applications.

Scoreloop, the cross-platform social gaming ecosystem on mobile, is now also available in beta for the Native SDK through BlackBerry Beta Zone.

RIM also showcased its BlackBerry Cascades, designed as a rich user interface framework. Cascades is scheduled to be made available in beta later this year.

Adobe Flash will be supported on future BBX-based tablets and smartphones and the BlackBerry PlayBook now supports the recently announced Adobe AIR 3.0 runtime.

RIM also introduced the Developer Beta version of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, which includes the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and the BlackBerry Plug-In for Android Development Tools (ADT), designed to allow developers to quickly and easily bring Android applications to BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

RIM also announced the BlackBerry Open Source Initiative to port popular Open Source libraries to the BlackBerry PlayBook platform. 

Libraries already available include physics engines like Bullet Physics and Box2DX, scripting languages like Lua, multimedia libraries like OpenAL and SDL, gaming frameworks like Cocos2DX and general-purpose libraries like Boost and Qt. 

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