Earlier today RIM hosted a webinar for developers on what they need to know about BlackBerry 7. I am pretty excited to see what new APIs will be available and how I can put them to work in my apps, so I tuned in to see what’s coming. Here is a quick recap of my thoughts on the what RIM had to say about BlackBerry 7.
First, why do you want to develop for BlackBerry 7? Because newer OSs is where the money’s at. RIM revealed some pretty compelling statistics to that effect: 54% of paid app purchases in App World are to OS 6 devices and 40% to OS 5 ones. Going by past experience, in all likelihood by Christmas of next year it will be BlackBerry 7 devices that account for the lion’s share of app purchases. So the earlier you get in on the action the more you will benefit from the upcoming upgrade cycle (Mental note to self: phase out support for OS 4.6 in own apps ASAP).
Now, what’s new in BlackBerry 7. Most if not all of the additions appear to be largely driven by new hardware capabilities, especially graphical ones. We have NFC, magnetometer (hello, compass apps), HD video recording, pimped out multimedia APIs and OpenGL ES 2.0 for enhanced gaming. A new Window Manager will allow the overlaying of Java UI and OpenGL over native screens so you can do cool things like layering graphics on top of video or overlaying textured surfaces on any screen. Could this be the beginning of BlackBerry apps that look and feel more suave?
BlackBerry 7 devices will also have what RIM calls “liquid graphics”: an optimization of the graphics pipeline that promises 60 FPS performance for Java apps. The goal for the RIM team seems to be significantly reducing UI latency, or in other words making new BlackBerries appear “snappier”. Key app latency is targeted at < 0.3% which is huge. When compared against the Torch latency (≈2.41%) and 9780 (≈1.55%) it will be a very noticeable improvement and something that will make everyone happy.
Last but not least, an API near and dear to my heart got a nice boost. The Super Apps API, which in my opinion is head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the industry now has a new Send Menu API which will enable sharing application content with contacts by email, text, facebook etc. Nicely done on this one, RIM.
So in conclusion, we have a very exciting additions coming up that show just how much of a hardware improvement we will be getting in BlackBerry 7. Now, if only these BlackBerry 7 devices could come out sooner rather than later…