RIM has released the first major update to its PlayBook tablet. The update includes some of the core features that didn’t initially ship with the PlayBook last year – including a native email app. The company is also launching the first version of its new management suite for BlackBerry and PlayBook devices, which will also manage iPhones and iPads as well as Android devices in a later release.
The gist of the release can boiled down a few items:
- A PlayBook email app that offers a unified inbox and supports integration with social networks
- Native calendar and contacts apps that also integrate with social networks
- An updated version of the BlackBerry Bridge app for displaying content from a BlackBerry handset on the PlayBook
- An app that let’s the BlackBerry act as a presentation remote for the PlayBook
- Printer support
- Some document editing improvements including a new virtual keyboard
Frankly, the RIM is touting these features as special is laughable. Most of these features should’ve been in the PlayBook on day one rather than nearly a year after the tablet launched. The rest aren’t anything particularly new or unique in the tablet or smartphone space.
The closest to standout items in RIMs announcement are probably the new remote control app and the first release of BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, the new management software for PlayBooks and BlackBerries. The remote app, while somewhat useful in concept but, because of the tablet’s 7-inch size, it only proves useful if an external monitor or TV is attached – something that requires a cable rather than a wireless approach like Apple’s AirPlay.
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion might be something to cheer about if the company was releasing a complete version of the suite including its ability to manage other platforms. As a PlayBook and BlackBerry only solution, one has to wonder why this didn’t ship when the PlayBook shipped and why it has taken RIM so long to get PlayBook management options to market.
The one thing that RIM really needs if it expects much success from the PlayBook OS, which is the based on the same QNX OS that will power future BlackBerry handsets, is to firmly establish the PlayBook as a business device – something that it has really failed to do with today’s announcement as well as over the past several months.