RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook hasn’t had an easy life. Even though it had impressive hardware for its time, it’s always been hobbled by the incomplete features of the PlayBook OS. RIM has been promising to deliver the PlayBook 2.0 update later this month, and invited us to a media briefing of what we could expect when it finally lands before the end of February. Let’s dive in, shall we?
The first and most important change that’s coming for the PlayBook is the addition of a native email client for the device. Previously, the only way you could get email off of the PlayBook was if you a) went through the web client of the email service of your choice (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) or if you sync the device using BlackBerry bridge to a BlackBerry phone. With the PlayBook 2.0 update, users will be able to finally use a native email client that syncs with not only your email but also other services like LinkedIn, Twitter and the like.
Another feature that was missing from the initial release of the PlayBook was a native calendar and contacts app. That’s also coming with PlayBook 2.0, which now allows you to use the device as a proper productivity tool. Another nice touch feature with the new update is the ability to control the PlayBook via a BlackBerry phone running BlackBerry OS 6 above. Users will now be able to use their phones to open pages, type text and even click through presentations when their BlackBerry phone is connected to the PlayBook via BlackBerry Bridge.
The most important news during the event was the fact that developers will now be able to port their Android applications to thePlayBook via BlackBerry App World. Before everyone starts celebrating, it’s important to note that the job of porting apps to the PlayBook is up to the developer, not BlackBerry. So if the developer of your favorite game/app isn’t interested in porting their game to App World, tough cookies.
The biggest question now is, can the PlayBook stand toe to toe with the other tablets in the market now? Sure, as long as RIM prices it correctly. While it has solid hardware specs, the device is getting pretty long in the tooth. Should you buy it now, even though there’s a large number of devices floating around the market? Maybe. We’ll give you a solid answer once we get the update for our own PlayBook, which is scheduled to hit sometime this month – sadly, we weren’t able to get a specific date, aside from a cryptic “soon” from the RIM folks.