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BlackBerry Java SDK v7.0 Beta Features Announced – Coming This Month

BlackBerry Development

Fitting with the announcement of the upcoming Bold 9900 with OS 7.0 we now have RIM announcing the BlackBerry Java SDK v7.0 beta for developers to take advantage of the new OS features. RIM kind of confused me by hinting that it was “now in beta” as in today but it looks like they are just announcing that it will be announced later this month. 🙂

What I am really digging is this new “Send API” that will allow other apps to send information to contacts just like the RIM apps can. The new update will be coming in both Eclipse plugin and stand alone JDE format. Here are the new features RIM announced will be in the upcoming SDK v7.0 beta:

The BlackBerry® Java® Plug-in for Eclipse® and the BlackBerry® Java® Development Environment will both be updated to support the new OS version, and they bring with them an abundance of new APIs taking advantage of new device hardware features:

  • OpenGL ES 2.0, taking advantage of the new graphics chip, allows you to create games rich in compelling graphics.
  • Window Manager API, also taking advantage of the new graphics chip and increased device horsepower, allows you to overlay OpenGL or any other UI component on top of anything you want, including camera and video.
  • Compass APIs, taking advantage of the new magnetometer sensor, allows you to determine the device’s orientation and direction. When combined with Window Manager API, enables the creation of augmented reality applications.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) APIs, taking advantage of the new NFC radio, allows you to read and emulate virtual tags and create rich solutions for payment and m-commerce.
  • Video capture APIs updated with support for HD video recording, taking advantage of the improved camera, allows your application to provide the user with the same high end media experience they get from the core apps.

Beyond supporting new hardware features, there are also new APIs to further enable the Super Apps experience:

  • Send Menu API, allowing apps to share content with contacts the same way that core apps do, by adding a “Send…” menu to their apps.
  • Unified Search API has been updated, making integration with this device feature easier than ever before and allowing more control of indexed keywords.
  • BlackBerry® Maps API has also been updated, simplifying how data is overlaid on top of BlackBerry Maps. Couple that with support for geofencing and the ability to overlay complex shapes and polygons, and you’ve got the richest integration with BlackBerry Maps to date.
  • Options API has evolved to match the new look and feel of the BlackBerry 6 options screens, allowing third party apps to add their own entries into the options screen including an icon and descriptive text.
  • Multimedia API has added support for buffer control for playback and bitrate definition for video recording.
  • Barcode API has been updated to support ZXing 1.6 and allow for the definition of custom decorders.
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  1. I really wish RIM would figure out a way to back-port some of the new APIs to older OSes, especially ones that don’t depend on new hardware or base OS capabilities. (i.e. almost everything in your second block of bullet-points)

    The challenge is that this would best be done through common shared libraries. RIM has explored that idea in the past, and never got anywhere. Apparently the distribution and versioning problems made it too difficult for their current OS. Another way would be to offer up (hopefully) lightweight API-extension modules (kinda like the new analytics package) that could hook into the already-existing private APIs some of these depend on. That would add a little app bloat, but we hope not too much.

    Regardless, RIM has shown that they have insufficient motivation to actually do either. You could ask any of their engineers at a DevCon, and get an entire discussion on how they could do this. But you’ll never hear from their management about them actually giving direction to follow through.

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