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BlackBerry PlayBook OS Updates Will be Wireless – App Updates Will Not Require Reboot

qnx_microkernel_wheel  PlayBook_Angle_2

Continuing my series of updates on the BlackBerry PlayBook I was happy to learn that the BlackBerry PlayBook will be able to install apps AND update apps without rebooting. This has been something that has plagued the BlackBerry OS for years and I am glad it is finally going away with the Tablet OS. This is not an advantage over the competition but is a very welcome change!

On the other hand I learned something new in a confirmation from RIM. The BlackBerry PlayBook OS updates will be able to be performed wirelessly sans desktop manager or a desktop at all. That is a big leg up from the main player in the market, the iPad, which requires iTunes for OS updates.

The only downside about the OS updates is that for now the BlackBerry PlayBook OS updates will require a reboot for an OS upgrade. The thing is one of the main powers of the QNX microkernel is that it can easily be changed to not require a reboot for the Tablet OS updates. The QNX kernel only contains critical processes like CPU scheduling with everything else being a layer on top of that microkernel. That microkernel is rarely if ever updated so RIM will probably take advantage of this shortly allowing for OS updates without a reboot. The QNX kernel is very cool in that every part of the OS other than the microkernel can fail and “self heal” itself back to life without crashing everything else. The QNX kernel also has fastboot features which allow the devs to have processes kick off before the full OS loads so it is all about how RIM executes on this.

I can also confirm that I have seen an early dev model reboot this week and it took about 35 seconds to do so. Not a big deal at all and the PM said they have made it even faster in the current internal builds.

12 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. 35 seconds !!! Wish my phone could do that

  2. That doesnt mean a thing for people who are going to buy BB phones for the next year or so… You will still need to reboot and the OS will still be slow until ONX is implemented

  3. the reboot time alone is enough to sell me on it

  4. Did they mention how much batt each reboot will take?

    My torch eats 5-8% for each reboot..

  5. That’s a BIG improvement over current BB OSes. Can’t wait for the QNX to hit the BB Smartphone.

  6. about time RIM step up there game. No rebooting for app upgrades is like music in my ears! Only a matter of time before the bb phones too becomes leaders again!

  7. The app reboots I can live with but not having to will certainly be nice.

  8. My Storm, a “smartphone”, takes nearly 5 minutes to reboot! Imagine, I am completely unreachable for 5 minutes while rebooting due to an app install or low memory reset. Sad. My wife thought I was purposely ignoring her call. Of course, I will never every do such a thing 😉 Nah, she knows me better than that!

    Of course, I am very patient with RIM for now, but that rubbish just can’t continue. I still remember that Windows Mobile phone I used to have that would hang for several minutes at a time absolutely refusing my ability to make or receive calls. It’s no wonder the new Windows Phone 7 restricts multitasking — if you can’t do it right, just don’t do it.

    The sophisticated layering of the QNX microkernel allows it to dynamically update device drivers and other core OS components. I’m hoping RIM will enable that option in the PlayBook soon.

    This is the true beauty of a microkernel architecture! Robustness and real-time support specially built for the most demanding applications… in routing mission critical traffic on the largest Internet backbones in the country or running hospital life-support equipment.

    It will be interesting to see how QNX will live in an environment that is not so tightly controlled/regulated as they’re used to working within. App developers are demanding flexibility from RIM when QNX has been living in a world that is so carefully controlled with some very carefully built apps that do only one or two things.

    When the PlayBook will be running dozens and dozens of different apps, some from untrusted sources (i.e., trojanized), it will present some new challenges for the QNX team and RIM.

    Android emulation will also be a challenge: how tightly integrated will that be into the PlayBook OS? How and will that expose the QNX core to vulnerabilities? In fact, what about the integration of Adobe Air into the QNX core? Adobe has been known for skirting around issues of security with patches upon patches of fixes rather than building security into their applications from the ground up.

    Many unanswered questions remain so I wish I could get some of those resolved, but I hope the PlayBook development team has their minds wrapped around these issues.

    • Good points Joe. Not sure about the Android integration since its tricky thing for RIM. Looks like they need some form of Java. Could simply be that they choose something similar to what Android has to allow cross pollination of developers

      • 1. They’re building a Java virtual machine (VM) to run existing BlackBerry apps on the PlayBook;
        2. If they’re doing that for backwards compatibility with BlackBerry apps, they can do the same for Android apps — a java vm running Android :)
        3. One recent video has a RIM presenter saying “matter-of-factly” that the PlayBook will run Android apps. If it didn’t come so smoothly out of his mouth, I’d be speculating too, but I think this is reality.

        Of course, within a java vm, you will suffer for speed a bit as you’re essentially running an emulator inside a protected virtual machine, but with a dual-core 1 GHz processor, I don’t think we’ll notice :)

        RIM really wanted about 4,000 PlayBook apps before launch, but adding Android apps in the mix will surely make up for that and close the gap on the iPad rather quickly! Hee hee!

  9. if only the random reboots were not needed so much

  10. Well sorry. Actually the torch is not nearly as bad …so we are getting there

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