BlackBerry Java SDK v7.0 into beta, which allows mobile developers to build applications for the new version of the BlackBerry operating system, BlackBerry 7 OS. Among other things, the SDK offers app developers device integration capabilities for access to the phone's features, including the magnetometer (compass), location data, maps and more.RIM has released its
It also adds support for NFC (near field communications), the short range wireless technology that enables the forthcoming digital wallets and mobile payments systems, in addition to serving as a barcode scanning replacement technology. The first NFC-enabled BlackBerry phones, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930, are due out later this summer.
What's New in BlackBerry 7 OS for Developers
According to the SDK's download page, the following new features and APIs will be available in this beta version:
- Rich graphics: BlackBerry 7 OS supports accelerated graphics and the Open GL ES 2.0 standard. With the Open GL ES 2.0 Graphics APIs, you can incorporate compelling graphics and create a better mobile gaming experience for your users.
- Rich Multimedia:
- Native Window API: display Open GL graphics, UI and information (stats, subtitles, etc.) over native screens such as the camera viewfinder, video, browser and pictures to provide an experience that combines the real and virtual worlds
- HD video recording: users can record stunning videos with a default setting of HD (720p), then share them via MMS with the MMS Mode (176x144)
- Audio Buffering API: allow your app to set the buffer size (in milliseconds) before playback starts
- Audio Bitrate: change and retrieve the audio bitrate during video recording and specify the audio bitrate for AMR codec for video recording
- OpenVG API enhancements: support common OpenVG operations and simplify porting 2D canvas style code to OpenVG
- UDP Multicast API: receive multicast packets and send UDP packets to multiple destinations with a single multicast group ID
- Device Integration:
- Magnetometer (Compass) API: detect magnetic fields in your app to determine the smartphone's direction and orientation relative to the real world
- Send Menu API: provide a "Send..." menu and allow users to share your app content with contacts the same way that core BlackBerry smartphone apps do
- Geofencing APIs: specify geospatial boundaries and provide notifications when a user crosses the boundary
- Maps APIs: add complex geospatial shapes such as polygons, images and markers to a MapField and create items that inform the MapField when their state has changed
- Travel Time API enhancement: allow users to find out the departure time needed to arrive at a location at a specific time based on current traffic conditions
- Unified Search enhancement: dynamically add or remove indexed keywords for an indexed object and use a single interface to provide "searchable data" to the Unified Search Service
- Near Field Communication: Leverage the NFC capabilities of the BlackBerry smartphone to read and write NFC tags. With the API functionality available, you can access a secure element (JSR 177) for mobile commerce and loyalty apps, and include tag/Card emulation, and tag reading and writing in your app. Your app can also include support for NFC IT Policies.
- Enterprise support: BlackBerry® Balance technology enables BlackBerry smartphones to be used for business and personal purposes without compromise. When connected to an organization's BlackBerry® Enterprise Server or BlackBerry® Enterprise Server Express1, specific IT policies along with features built into the device software2 help keep personal information separate and business information highly secure, allowing users to enjoy the fullest BlackBerry experience on a single device.
3rd-Party NFC Apps Now Possible
Of particular interest is the added support for read/write NFC in this new SDK. At this year's BlackBerry World, RIM demoed this technology by having its new BlackBerry 9900/9930 phones scan an NFC-enabled tag, which would then launch a URL. But when we asked to talk to someone at RIM more openly about the company's vision for NFC and how the technology would play a role in the way we communicate going forward, BlackBerry PR turned us down flat. RIM simply wasn't ready to discuss such a thing. This either means that RIM doesn't have a vision (unlikely) for NFC, or it's in active talks with potential partners to offer its own version of a mobile payments service, and other NFC-enabled offerings. For what it's worth, one company representative told us that RIM was talking to "banks and credit card companies," but wouldn't name which ones.
In any event, at least mobile app developers can begin to take advantage of this new feature now, by building and testing NFC-enabled applications that will run on RIM's upcoming smartphones.