PlayBook OS 2 Plugs Some Gaps
This morning, RIM released PlayBook OS 2, the long-awaited update to its tablet operating system that adds a number of key features which were inexplicably absent from its first iteration. Top among them: Access to email and calendar programs without having to tether the PlayBook to a BlackBerry smartphone. RIM initially promised to add these features within three months of the tablet’s launch, but multiple postponements delayed them for another five.
Also included: An Android app player that allows the PlayBook to run applications written for devices powered by Google’s Android OS; integration with social networking services like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; and a new version of BlackBerry Bridge, which transforms BlackBerry smartphones into remote controls for PlayBooks.
Overall, a nice update for the troubled tablet, one that shores up many of the weaknesses for which it has drawn criticism. Lack of native email and calendar apps earned the PlayBook some harsh reviews when it first debuted, hurting sales from the get-go. RIM sold just 850,000 PlayBooks through the end of November 2011 — poor enough sales that it was forced to take a $485 million writedown on the value of unsold PlayBook inventory following sharp discounts.