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RIM lifts skirt, flashes 'new' OS at devs

QNX rebranded BlackBerry BBX

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The PlayBook will get push email and BBM support just as soon as the BlackBerrys get QNX, which has been rebranded BBX to make it seem shiny and new.

BBX, announced yesterday at BlackBerry DevCon, is RIM's new best hope. The Canadian firm calls it a "next-generation mobile platform" while everyone else is calling it a new OS, but really it's just QNX ported onto phones and with the much-awaited support for BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES).

Not that there are any phones, or even a version of BBX for the much-maligned PlayBook, at least not yet. The announcement at the developer conference focused on providing SDKs and beta versions, along with specifications, but RIM has not given even a rough timetable for a commercial release.

Those SDKs do include an Android runtime, so applications developed for Android can be submitted to RIM's App World too. There's also a native library, and support for Adobe AIR, though as AIR already provides the PlayBook interface atop QNX that's not so surprising.

Most importantly, and not in the betas, BBX will support RIM's BES services, so pushed email, BlackBerry Messenger chatter and all those other corporate applications will finally run on the PlayBook as well as on forthcoming BlackBerry handsets.

Developers wanting to be ready for BBX, but unwilling to develop apps specifically for the distinctly limited PlayBook-owning demographic, are recommended to use HTML 5 and RIM's WebWorks environment, which works across all the company's existing, and forthcoming, platforms. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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