Blackberry PlayBook and QNX DEVCON10

Posted on September 28, 2010 | Comments Off

First day at Blackberry’s developer conference, #DEVCON10, has been great. At the keynote co-CEO Mike Lazaridis announced Blackberry’s tablet called: PlayBook. There was a lot of information about the device but also a lack of certain bits of information too. In this post I want to dump what I saw and heard during the first day experience about PlayBook, blackberry’s tablet OS (for now called QNX), and QNX’s CEO Dan Dodge.

First thing to do is go check out their sneak peek video. The video was great and it called out Adobe by saying it was “Flash-loving”. In the video it showed off NHL website playing video, Universal Studios, YouTube t name a few.

Next thing to talk about is the specs on the hardware for the Blackberry PlayBook are just awesome. Right off the top, there is the 1Ghz dual core CPU’s and 1GB ram. That is almost twice the specs of any other current tablet out there. The other cool feature was the full 1080p output through a non-proprietary HDMI cable, talk about great digital home experience. A little tidbit that I heard later in the session with Dan Dodge, the CEO of QNX, is that the first version will be wifi only and cellular models will be release later (they would not comment on carriers and timing, i think they are holding out for 4G). The device sports a 7in screen at 1024×600 resolution. After they talked about specs they had Adobe CEO Shantanu come up on stage and talk about working with RIM on this device. Shantanu gave a shout out to MAX to find out more.

Also during the keynote, and during the breakout session, Dan Dodge talk about the architecture of QNX. Here is a slide from the keynote that highlights how AIR and Flash Player fit into QNX’s platform (as they call it). Here is my poor quality picture of the moment, can’t see the logo’s but it gives you the context of the stage and Dan Dodge up there. First off it was cool to see the AIR logo in a slide in the keynote regarding a new OS. It also great to hear Dan Dodge say that QNX and Adobe worked to get Adobe runtimes down to the core of the platform.

On to the breakout session with the QNX people. As Dan Dodge is speaking at DEVCON10, Julian Dolce a Senior Flash Developer at QNX who joined back in April is speaking at FOTB. First thing to say about this breakout session is Dan Dodge and the other QNX executive that where there are total geeks. They went way technical on this talk about the QNX OS. Starting with how PlayBook was both play and security. Heavy on security so if you password expired it would expire all the applications that require it but leave your “play” apps alone. The OS was architect-ed around multiprocessing and microkernal that allow for 24/7 self healing OS. If one piece of code fails, it caches the fingerprint of the crash and doesn’t let it happen again, and since its just one process it doesn’t bring the whole system down it just restarts that one process. They dropped a lot of references to patents they hold around these areas and pointed out how many OS certifications they had, from security to ISO. I just like the idea that a tablet OS will have the same rigid specs as 24/7 medical or military uses cases, this thing should just rock.

More geek details that where in the session where about the architecture between the app level and the OS hardware pieces. They use a messaging architecture so all the devices look the same to each other on one bus (theoretically that means you could have one device with capability that works for other devices on the system as if that capability was part of the device it self). Also it was great to here Dan Dodge us Adobe AIR as the reference to the application layer when describing how the app level interacted with the system/hardware pieces. Adobe AIR must have been mentioned about 20 times. As you might see in the platform slide above, Adobe AIR is on par with the Java VM and Native (OpenGL, Posix, OpenVG) which is cool.

One tidbit in the breakout session was there approach to graphic & video composition at the system level. They use this to allow for application composition but what is really cool is since its at the OS level they can composite applications at the OS UI level. To see this look at the sneak peek video where they go into “genie” or tab window mode to move to a new application. Those thumbnails of the applications are live views of the applications not just snapshots.

To keep up on the momentum and future info stuff, two things:
Follow Blackberry’s Tablet OS by signing up for early access.
Come to MAX this year for more information, Blackberry is a sponsor and will have a lot more details on what this all means for our developers, tools, and their SDK.