RIM issues Java SDK for new BlackBerry 6

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) released a new Java SDK to support its new BlackBerry 6 mobile OS, officially unveiled last week. According to RIM, BlackBerry Java SDK v6.0 offers developers access to over 40 new APIs geared to more visually compelling and more deeply integrated applications, highlighted by the Unified Search Framework API (enabling devs to register their apps and content partners to be searchable), a redesigned Mapfield API (including enhanced features like panning, zooming, location and convenience toolbars), the WiFi Geolocation API (allowing creation of apps that exploit a handset's proximity to WiFi service) and the Time Travel API (incorporating estimated time of arrival data).

The BlackBerry Java SDK v6.0 also boasts support for new pre-built user interface components like contextual menus, tables, lists, inertial scrolling, activity progress indicators, pane managers, toolbars, title bars and sub-menus. The SDK additionally leverages the revamped operating system's new WebKit browser, promising tools to build dynamic websites and advanced widgets as well as apps--RIM notes that with the addition of support for HTML5, developers can create content that runs through the web, translating to more interactive media and gaming experiences. BlackBerry Java SDK v6.0 is available for download here.

Alongside the WebKit browser, BlackBerry 6 revamp touts a redesigned user interface optimized for both touchscreens and trackpads, expanded messaging features to simplify social media and RSS management, an upgraded multimedia experience and a new Universal Search tool. According to RIM, BlackBerry 6 offers multiple views to help consumers better organize their applications and content, with homescreen icons arranged in five customizable views--All, Favorites, Media, Downloads and Frequent--navigable via swiping. Users can organize where they want their icons to appear, and can add contacts and web shortcuts directly to the homescreen. Also new: context-sensitive Action Menus bringing an app's most common tasks and actions to the surface--users can also multitask by holding down the Menu key, which generates a visual grid of all presently running apps, enabling toggling between them.

BlackBerry 6 additionally features RIM's new Social Feeds application, which integrates the native BlackBerry Messenger solution with services including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. Social Feeds offers an integrated view of friends' activities across multiple social networks, enabling users to post updates across multiple services simultaneously--consumers can also incorporate their favorite RSS Feeds from the Social Feeds application or directly from a website while browsing. The new Text Messages app expands SMS and MMS communication, giving users the flexibility to view a conversation in one threaded chat as well as share photos, videos and related rich content.  

RIM will launch BlackBerry 6 in conjunction with the new Torch smartphone, also announced Tuesday and slated to hit retail via AT&T on Aug. 12. The new OS will roll out across existing BlackBerry smartphones including the BlackBerry Bold 9700, BlackBerry Bold 9650 and BlackBerry Pearl 3G in the months ahead.

RIM is betting the new OS will boost its fortunes in the increasingly competitive battle for smartphone supremacy--according to new Nielsen Company data, BlackBerry remains the U.S. market leader, representing 35 percent of smartphone subscribers nationwide, followed by Apple's iPhone (28 percent), Microsoft's Windows Mobile (15 percent, down from 27 percent a year ago) and Google's Android (13 percent). However, only 42 percent of current BlackBerry users plan to stick with the platform when they make their next smartphone purchase.

For more on the BlackBerry Java SDK v6.0:
- read this release

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