At this morning's BlackBerry World conference, the audience attending RIM's CEO Mike Lazaridis' keynote address was given a sneak peek at some of the most noticeable "missing" applications on the new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer: email, contacts and calendaring. These core apps are currently available only when the PlayBook is tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone using a feature called BlackBerry Bridge. While a convenient and secure solution for enterprise customers who don't want corporate data saved on the tablet itself, the arrangement leaves consumers who want to check personal email or calendars with no recourse for doing so. That will soon change, says RIM.
In fact, PlayBook's lack of apps in general is about to be addressed, the company promises, through the addition of an Android App Player, a new feature will allow users to run popular Android applications on their PlayBook tablet computers. This too, was seen this morning, running smoothly in a live demo.
Core Apps Coming this Summer
Lazaridis touted impressive numbers for RIM, noting it has sold 150 million smartphones, including 14.9 million in the last quarter alone. The company has 250,000 developers working to build mobile applications for its BlackBerry devices, including its new PlayBook tablet. However, there are only 3,000 PlayBook apps available at present for the early adopting PlayBook users.
Consumers purchasing a PlayBook today also have quite the conundrum - there's no good way to check their personal email, contacts or calendar if they don't already own a BlackBerry smartphone. That's because RIM, in its haste to get its tablet to market, has opted to deliver much of what the PlayBook lacks via software updates, arriving as over-the-air downloads.
It's nearly impossible to provide a good review of the PlayBook because of this - the device changes from day to day. Only yesterday, for example, we would have noted that the PlayBook didn't have video chat or a Facebook app, but later those apps arrived.
The same holds true for the missing "core" applications - email, calendaring and contacts - which will arrive "later this summer" in another software update.
But today, audiences got a first look at these apps, appearing briefly onscreen in a quick demo, seemingly functional.
Image credit: CrackBerry.com
Android Apps Demonstrated Live
RIM also gave the audience a first look how it would deliver Android applications to PlayBook users through the use of an Android "App Player," a sort of virtualized Android environment. The Android apps themselves will be listed in the BlackBerry World marketplace, alongside native PlayBook apps. When launched, the apps will load in the App Player if it's already running or will launch the App Player themselves.