As I had mentioned in my previous post, I wrote an AIR application for the Blackberry Playbook, the newest of the tablets that run Flash. I got a Blackberry Playbook device yesterday and these are my early impressions –
1. Great hardware build and finish. When you have it in your hands, you get a good feeling. It’s not heavy and it feels right.
2. Though launching one year after the launch of iPad, it equals the hardware of the second iPad or iPad2. It has dual cameras, Bluetooth, HDMI connection ports. So the device on the whole is very sophisticated.
3. What the Playbook lacks is the services around it. It does not have a preinstalled E-mail client or a native facebook or twitter application. There are still many categories in the store that are malnutritioned- without apps or content.
However I think the third point will be tackled soon as..
— Android and Java application players will soon be coming to Playbook in a software update, due in summer. This means Android and Java apps just need to be packaged for the Playbook and they will run smoothly on the Playbook. This is an excellent initiative by RIM as it brings a large community of developers with tons of games, apps into the Playbook ecosystem.
— When I was working with Blackberry toolkit in December / January it was primitive versions of the SDK that lacked signing and other features. It was not all that developer friendly. I remember in late February, SDK 0.9.3 was released which had tools to sign the apps and RIM have been regularly improving the SDKs (which had both good and bad effects). Around last week, RIM released SDK 1.0.1 and image, which is the firmware currently running on the device. Before this it was hard for developers to gauge platform specific features like contextual menu ( Playbook’s menu appears on a swipe from top of the screen), accelerometer or GPS. Hence, developers couldn’t experiment much. Today, with a mature set of tools and simulators and some devices in the market, I expect the apps to grow.
I have also started working on a game for the Blackberry Playbook using Flash, of course.