MWC 2012: BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 OS Not Likely to Jumpstart PlayBook Platform’s Popularity

Research In Motion (RIM) has announced the latest version of its PlayBook tablet operating system. Starting February 21, PlayBook users can download and update their tablets to version 2.0. The release has integrated email, social integration, BlackBerry Bridge app, mobile productivity apps, and of course, support for new apps in RIM’s AppWorld application repository. The new features introduced are expected to enhance the user experience for both work and entertainment.

RIM's BlackBerry Playbook 2.0 operating system will feature integrated email messaging and calendar, which were conspicuously absent from the 1.0 release (photo :Ubergizmo).

Previously, the Playbook only supported access to email, calendar, and contacts on a BlackBerry smartphone using Bluetooth via BlackBerry Bridge. Now, these core apps can be accessed directly using native clients without having to tether the tablet wirelessly with a smartphone. This is a long-requested feature from BlackBerry users, and RIM has finally incorporated it in the PlayBook.

Users can also access messages from a single and unified inbox. This includes work and personal emails, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) messages, SMS and messages from various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All calendars and contacts from social media accounts are integrated into the built-in calendar and contact app, which is dynamically updated. These are likely in response to the criticisms of the original PlayBook OS not having native e-mail and calendar capabilities.

OS 2.0 now supports synchronization with Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, and Yahoo for calendar and email, as well as with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino for corporate email accounts. Contacts and calendars are automatically synced.

David J. Smith, RIM Senior Vice President for Mobile Computing says the Playbook OS is created with the user who wants high-speed browsing, multimedia consumption, as well as productivity with content and apps.

Even with standalone capabilities, the PlayBook works best with a BlackBerry smartphone. The tablet can be used in conjunction with a smartphone to view documents, web pages, emails and photos from the smartphone on the tablet via the BlackBerry Bridge app.  Likewise, the smartphone’s keyboard and optical trackpad can act as the tablet’s wireless keyboard for easier typing.

Moreover, Playbook 2.0 comes with a new feature called Print To Go, which provides the ability to “print” documents to the tablet directly and wirelessly. Anything sent through the feature can be easily viewed offline later.

RIM’s AppWorld gets a boost, with thousands of new apps and a new video store. Powered by Rovi and featuring new and old movies and TV shows for both rental and purchase, it is available for users in the U.S.

Even though RIM still has fewer apps than main rivals Android and iOS, the platform’s ability to run apps designed for Android 2.3 makes the PlayBook platform attractive to both smartphone and tablet users.

This OS will be the basis of future BlackBerry smart phone operating systems, which is BlackBerry 10 (formerly BBX). But can the Playbook 2.0 platform deliver? It seems still a bit too limited, compared with the iPad or Android tablets.