Beta version of BlackBerry Java SDK v.7.0 Available

Research In Motion recently unveiled the two latest additions coming to its smartphone family at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando in the form of the Bold 9900 and 9930. Expected to be released sometime this summer, these new Bold smartphones will be the first to feature the performance driven BlackBerry 7 OS.

The new operating system promises improvements in the realms of communication, productivity, multimedia, web browsing, and more.  While the announcements on the smartphones and BlackBerry 7 were some of the obvious highlights of the conference, another welcome introduction for application developers was made as the new features of the BlackBerry Java SDK v.7.0’s Beta version were previewed.

As is the case with most new smartphones, the Bold 9900 and 9930 will come equipped with several new features.  Many of these deal with the devices’ hardware setups.  To correspond with the innovative changes, the BlackBerry Java Plug-in for Eclipse and the BlackBerry Java Development Environment are being updated to support BlackBerry 7 OS.  Within the updates come several new APIs (Application Programming Interface) that will help get the most out of the new smartphone hardware features.  An API helps facilitate the interaction between software programs.

The first API worth mentioning is OpenGL ES 2.0, which maximizes the potential of the smartphones’ new graphics chip so that developers can create games with exciting visuals.  The Window Manager API makes use of the new graphics chip plus improved processing power to overlay UI components like OpenGL over items such as camera and video, among others.  New Compass APIs will take advantage of the upgraded magnetometer sensor.  This allows developers to decipher the smartphone’s direction and orientation.  Combining the Compass APIs with the Window Manager API allows for the creation of augmented reality apps. 

The Beta version of BlackBerry Java SDK v.7.0 also offers Near Field Communication (NFC) APIs.  These take advantage of the smartphones’ built-in support for NFC, which allows for the reading and emulation of virtual tags.  The final APIs that capitalize off of the new BlackBerry hardware features deal with video capture.  These APIs take advantage of the new camera and offer support for HD video recording.

APIs that center on new hardware features aren’t the only ones in BlackBerry Java SDK v.7.0 Beta, as there are new APIs that help in creating what are known as Super Apps.  The Send Menu API adds a Send menu to apps to allow for content sharing with contacts.  The improved Unified Search API offers extended control over indexed keywords.  The Maps API has been improved to offer the ability to overlay complex shapes and polygons, support for geofencing, and more.  The Options API has been updated to give third party apps capability to add entries into the options screen.  The Multimedia API serves up buffer support control for playback plus bitrate definition for video recording.  Last, but not least, the update Barcode API now supports Zxing 1.6.

BlackBerry Java SDK v.7.0 Beta is set to be released towards the end of May. 

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