BlackBerry OS Update: RIM Woos BlackBerry Devs With Java, Web Tools Update

Research In Motion has released updates to its Java and Web development tools for its popular BlackBerry line of smartphones.

Heading the list are a BlackBerry Java plug-in for Eclipse v1.1, BlackBerry Web plug-in v2.0 and a new BlackBerry Java software development kit (SDK) version 5.0 that includes more than 20,000 APIs.

RIM said the new tools will help developers quickly and easily build Web-based BlackBerry widgets or Java applications that leverage the unique benefits of the BlackBerry Application Platform and share information across core BlackBerry and third-party applications.

The news comes as RIM is facing fierce competition in the smartphone sector. Apple's iPhone has grabbed the crown for coolness among smartphone makers and a range of devices based on Google's Android software are gaining traction both in the consumer and enterprise markets.

"One of the challenges that RIM has is to increase the flow of applications into their app store and for the device given the momentum Apple and Android have for their app stores," Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, told InternetNews.com.

Support for Multiple BlackBerry OS Versions

"Creating more tools and updating the tools they have to make it easier to get Web-based apps on the device is all goodness. Corporate applications have been there for a while -- now RIM has to get developers to build more consumer apps and they've made that easier with these latest updates," Gold said.

RIM said that the new widgets and Java apps can be personalized and integrate with a BlackBerry smartphone's inbox, calendar, address book and other native applications.

The BlackBerry Java plug-in for Eclipse will let developers simulate applications using a range of BlackBerry smartphone simulators or the actual devices, and will support multiple versions of the BlackBerry OS. The company said the plug-in includes time-saving features, such as the ability to instantly load and immediately run a modified application being debugged without having to reset the simulator or device.

The BlackBerry Web plug-in v2.0, available for both Eclipse and Microsoft Visual Studio, is designed to help developers easily create Web applications, including BlackBerry widgets, and Web content using standard Web technology and programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and AJAX.

Pushing Widgets and Mobile Content

The BlackBerry widget SDK v1.0 gives developers access to calendar, contacts, camera, maps, messaging, browser, files and location via cell-tower or GPS, and also enables the receipt of BlackBerry push content through a set of widget APIs.

The SDK includes navigation support for touchscreen handsets and location-based services, as well as persistent data storage thanks to an integration with SQLite and Google Gears.

"The BlackBerry application platform continues to evolve tremendously and the new tool enhancements make developing applications for BlackBerry smartphones easier and faster than ever," Alan Brenner, senior vice president of RIM's BlackBerry platform, said in a statement.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Android, Blackberry, iPhone, smartphones, RIM