BlackBerry Live and BBJam: the week in Orlando was an energizing week for me as a developer of mobile business apps. As you probably know I’m a native Cascades developer and want to give you a summarize from my personal POV.
For me most important from BlackBerry Live:
- Q5 – a new BlackBerry 10 device with lower price and cool design in 4 colors will enable more to switch to BlackBerry 10. For me as a developer already supporting the Q10 there’s nothing to do because screen sizes are the same.
- BBM for iOS and Android – long waited for this and now with cool BlackBerry 10 devices available a great chance for BlackBerry to bring new customers to their platform. BBM Channels together with BBM on other platforms makes sense for me living in Germany with only small market share of BlackBerry
- Secure Workspace for iOS and Android – not as powerful as BlackBerry Balance, but a cool way to enable a secure island in unsecure OS like Android or iOS. This will make it easier for enterprises, small companies or even families to manage all their devices and to provide a secure way for emails, calendars, documents and more.
- Mobile Endpoints – Thorsten Heins this year was talking about mobile endpoints instead of smartphones or tablets. Mobile endpoints can be smartphones, tablets, but also Cars or Houses.
- Momentics re-launch on e4 (Eclipse 4) – There are cool new things coming for developers of native BlackBerry 10 apps pushing Momentics IDE on top as Eclipe IDE.
- BlackBerry 10.2 SDK – so many new features were announced at BlackBerry Live giving a good feeling about the progress of BlackBerry 10
The conference started great for me:
- my BlackBerry 10 app ‘ekkes Tea Timer‘ got the “Built For BlackBerry” certification.
- on monday I also got my certification as a ‘BlackBerry Certified Builder for Native Application Development / Cascades‘. BlackBerry Builder certifications are new to BlackBerry and you can take an exam for native or HTML5. There were around 100 multiple choice questions and you have to master more then 70%. I really recommend to prepare for this certification – not only for native developers but also for HTML5 / WebWorks.
Most important for me as an Independent developer is all the networking at conferences and BlackBerry Live and BBJam are good places to do this. Of course there was also much fun at Universal Studios with Alicia Keys show. 10 days after the conference and I’m still energized.
Lets take a look at some topics in detail to see what all of this means for native developers and also end users.
Cascades in Cars: WOW
At conferences before there were concept cars with QNX demonstrating the power of QNX in Cars. But all was done using HTML5 and now the big surprise: BlackBerry 10.2 will run in Cars
This will enable me to write native applications running in the car – and this isn’t far away: BlackBerry 10.2 Beta will start soon and be available later this year. I can imagine many cool apps enhancing the BlackBerry 10 FLOW to the next dimension. Imagine this: while in your office you get some new orders pushed on your BlackBerry 10 Smartphone and also downloaded to your Car. Then go to your Car, start driving and automatically be routed to your first customer. While driving you get some more informations via BBM audio chat from your dispatcher to be well prepared. Reaching your customer the BB 10 app inside your car recognizes this automatically (using new Geofencing API coming to BB10) and sends status back to dispatcher (using headless service running in the back). You do your job at customer site and then need a secure way to get your work verified by customer. This will be done using a Smart Card. (using new Smart Card API coming to BB10). Remember: all of this not at some time in the future – it will happen soon ! Thinking on this more and more you’ll understand why BlackBerry 10 isn’t only a new OS – it’s a new platform and now step by step the new vision becomes visible and reality.
At BlackBerry Live there was a cool demo of BBM Video Chat from inside a Bentley running BlackBerry 10 and they also demonstrated starting a download to the Car initiated by BlackBerry 10 Smartphone.
Thorsten Heins always was talking about mobile endpoints: Smartphones, Tablets and Cars are only the beginning. (See also this article about Home Automation) and don’t forget that you can also manage devices from other platforms. All of this is unique in mobile world of today. At BlackBerry Live you could feel how proud Thorsten Heins was about all things done and coming with BlackBerry 10. This was also a big difference to last conferences: BlackBerry is back and no questions anymore if BlackBerry will survive !
Headless Apps: what’s going on there ?
As a former BlackBerry OS Java developer I was missing to start apps running in the background.
There was a session on headless apps: ‘Background Services – Event Driven Processing for your Application’ (JAM47) – a feature many BlackBerry developers are waiting for.
The risk of background services is consumation of processor power and drying the battery. At the session we discussed some different scenarios and HowTo solve requirements with
- Invocation Framework
- Push Services
- Headless Services running in the back
Looks good what will come to BlackBerry 10 – first things will be available with 10.2 where the beta will start in June 2013. Headless Apps are no easy topic and every developer should really carefully think about this and if he really needs a background service running. Plese take the time and listen to JAM47 recording to follow the discussions. Whats really great: BlackBerry is listening to developers and if you have scenarios not covered yet please let @ShadidHaque know about this.
Momentics re-launch on e4
I’m a big fan of Eclipse since more then 10 years now and my first experiences with Momentics IDE (coming from Eclipse Java IDE) was like beaming back some years and missing comfort and easy workflows.
From some tweets of @DougSchaefer I expected to get a new version of Momentics based on a newer Eclipse and so I attended JAM22 session.
What a big surprise: the Momentics IDE (based on Eclipse CDT) was completely redesigned. Eclipse 4 (e4) removes the barriers and Eclipse PlugIn architecture are the keys to a new Momentics IDE !
BlackBerry created a great team and first results were presented by
- Marcus Hannerstig – Visual Designer / Web Developer, BlackBerry
- Russell Andrade – Product Manager, Native SDK, BlackBerry
- Johan Larsby – Software Developer, BlackBerry
- David Cummings – Technical Lead – Tools, BlackBerry
at JAM22 session. Please take a 2nd look at the presenters: Designers from Cascades – TAT and coders from QNX not only did this session together – they were locked into a war room and together worked on the new Momentics IDE. This was a really cool decision: now we’ll get a new Momentics with new UX focused on success for developers! Normaly Design and Coding are two very different worlds not understanding each other and here you can see the real power bringing the cool guys from Cascades and QNX together.
From all sessions I attended at BlackBerry Live JAM22 was the one with most applause by audience.
Now with the re-launch of Momentics based on Eclipse 4.2 I’m sure Momentics will become a first-class IDE.
All parts were redesigned from Welcome page to target definition and build-launch-process to make it easier for first-time users and also much smoother for experienced developers. Momentics now has a flat UI, new Icons and new color scheme.
Some more of the new features:
- reload a single QML File to the device instead of deploying complete app again will speed up tests and debugging. The screen will do a short ‘blink’ and you can go on – so this feature is named QML Blink
- C++ support for Qt: C++ now knows all Qt keywords, macros, …
- C++ Signals and Slots with auto-complete
- QML Editor with new font: looking good and scaling great on OSX, Win and Linux, easy distinguish between Zero and O, better brace highlighting
- faster Code-completion
- easier Device Management: new wizard to pair devices via USB / Wifi gets all infos from the device itself
- smaller SDK downloads
- Simulators integrated into IDE downloads
- clear separation between API (10.0, 10.1, 10.2 Beta) and SDK’s with debug symbols (10.0.690, …)
- access to forums, docs and samples from welcome site
- install samples from Github with one click: download / install / then simply click ‘Play’ to run on device
- build / launch much more easier then before
- instead of InstallEverywhere now native installers for OSX, Windows and Linux
This is only the beginning – new features already in work for a more advanced tooling, templates for headless apps and more. First 10.2 beta will start with 10.2 SDK beta in June 2013. Couldn’t wait for this.
SDK 10.2 – cool new features are coming
It’s good to see that BlackBerry made such a huge progress the last year.
And it’s going on:
BlackBerry 10.2 will get some cool new features like active USB Hub, wireless HDMI using Miracast and WIFI direct. This will enable apps for more mobile scenarios and step by step I’m understanding Thorsten Heins vision as he talked about Tablets going away next 5 years. I’m working on a business app where I’m trying to follow this path and only use BlackBerry 10 devices extended in the office by Bluetooth keyboard, Mouse and HDMI Monitor – curious to see how it will work in daily business.
I’m developing native with Cascades, but if you plan to port your Android App to BlackBerry 10 – there will be Android JellyBean support with 10.2. These Android ports are a good way to get in contact with BlackBerry 10 platform and to see that developers can make money there. This will be a good starting point to switch over to native BB10 development 😉
There are also new landing pages where developers can see what will come with 10.2 and when it will arrive:
- Native SDK Landing Page – WIFI Direct, Smart Card, GeoFencing, BB ID as authentication, Headless, Screen Services, USB Host + Serial, Miracast, Altimeter (Pressure, Temperature, Altitude), …
- Cascades Landing Page – Text filtering, List rearrange, Accent colors, Simple Grid,
- Android Landing Page – JellyBean 4.2.2, Hardware Acceleration, Tooling, …
- HTML5 Landing Page – Apache Cordova Alignment
I could write a much longer article about all the things I learned at BBJam in Orlando, but will stop for today’s summary from BlackBerry Live and BBJam. Don’t forget: you can watch most sessions on demand here for free. Take some time next rainy weekend or so – it’s really worth.
One last topic:
Maps in your Apps
Native BlackBerry Maps were unusable with 10.0, become something better with 10.1 and now we’ re reaching a point where I can recommend them 😉
Now you can create custom maps and place Pins on top, get Bubbles and can navigate to a destination. There’s a memory leak if you open/close custom maps many times in series, but it’s already confirmed and will be fixed soon.
You can do really cool things with custom maps plus Compass, Rotation, Tilt and more from Sensors.
My other session was about ‘Invocation Framework as heart of your business apps’ (JAM56) where I demonstrated some use-cases of Invocation Framework and how it helps lazy developers to create cool applications following the workflow of users without jumping from one app to the next and back: most should happen inside your app so the user doesn’t know that he/she in reality is using some more apps.
If you’re a developer for BlackBerry 10 please use the Invocation Framework to provide your users a seamless flow with less lines of code and please also provide re-usable parts of your own apps to be invoked by others. Consuming and contributing – this is the spirit not only of Open Source but also BlackBerry 10.