Research in Motion is breathing new life into its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet today with the release of PlayBook OS 2.0, an update that adds e-mail, a calendar, contacts and support for Android apps.
The PlayBook, a tablet with a 7-inch display and a dual-core processor, launched last April. Critics panned the device, largely because of its lack of e-mail and other basic apps. RIM originally promised to upgrade the operating system last summer, but repeatedly missed its own deadlines. The update is available now, over-the-air, for all PlayBook users.
Here’s an overview of the new features:
Technically, the app is called “Messages,” because it can integrate messages from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The app also acts as a unified inbox for e-mail, able to show work and personal accounts in a single view. The text editor supports bold, underlining and italics, which may not sound like a big deal, but the iPad and Android don’t have that feature.
The PlayBook’s new calendar app lets users create, view and modify events. Like the Messaging app, it also can also switch between calendars, or show all events in a single view.
In addition to typical contact info, the PlayBook’s contacts app can also show the latest information from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A new app, called Print to Go, wirelessly “prints” digital copies of documents from a PC to the PlayBook. That way, you can view everything on the tablet instead of carrying mounds of paper.
PlayBook 2.0 adds support for Android apps, but it’s still up to app developers to submit their software to RIM for approval. Also, Android apps don’t behave quite like native apps. Instead of acting as self-contained entities, all Android apps are confined to a special app player, which acts as a single master app when multitasking.
BlackBerry Remote Control
BlackBerry Bridge, which lets BlackBerry phones connect with the tablet, gets a new feature in PlayBook 2.0, allowing users to use the phone as a remote control. Not sure why you’d need to control a 7-inch tablet remotely, but there you go.
Retailers still list the PlayBook’s full price at $500 and up, which officially hasn’t dropped a dime since the tablet launched. However, you can still find the PlayBook for its $200 fire sale price at Best Buy (with limited availability) and Office Depot, while Staples is selling the tablet at full price. It’s unclear how long the sale prices will stay in effect.
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