RIM Releases BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 [Updated]

As we reported last week, RIM has officially released the OS 2.0 update for its BlackBerry PlayBook. Downloads are available immediately for the long-awaited software upgrade, which was delayed multiple times.

New features include native email that integrates with social media networks, among other improvements. Early first impressions of the software are positive, but most still feel that OS 2.0 should have been the original software running on the tablet last April.

“Building on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet’s proven web browsing, multimedia and multitasking strengths, the new BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 introduces a range of new communications and productivity enhancements as well as expanded app and content support,” said David J. Smith, SVP Mobile Computing, Research In Motion.

The biggest change is the ability for the PlayBook to use Google Android apps, but it’s not quite that simple. No, BlackBerry users don’t have access to the several hundred thousand Android apps that those running Google’s mobile platform do—only those apps which have been manually ported over by developers. And it took RIM some major coaxing in order to spur that labour.

Still, this is a major jump for RIM in the tablet space. And after shipping just 150,000 units in its most recent quarter—a sharp drop from the 500,000 shipped in the first quarter after launching the device—it certainly can’t hurt.

Here is RIM’s official breakdown of the update:

Integrated email client with a powerful unified inbox: With BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 you have the option to use a  unified inbox that consolidates all messages in one place, including messages from Facebook®, LinkedIn® and Twitter®, as well as personal and work email accounts.

Social Integration with Calendar and Contacts apps:  The built-in calendar harnesses information from social networks and makes it available where and when users need it.  Contact cards are also dynamically populated with updated information from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to create a consolidated view of contacts.

Updated BlackBerry Bridge app: BlackBerry® Bridge™ is a unique app that provides a Bluetooth® connection between your BlackBerry PlayBook and core apps on your BlackBerry® smartphone (including BBM™, Email, Contacts, Calendar and Browser) in order to let you view the content on the larger tablet display. With BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, it’s easier and quicker than ever to take documents, web pages, emails and photos that appear on your BlackBerry smartphone and display them on your BlackBerry PlayBook for an optimized viewing and editing experience. The updated BlackBerry Bridge app also provides a new remote control feature that allows a BlackBerry smartphone to be used as a wireless keyboard and mouse for a BlackBerry PlayBook.

Improved mobile productivity: Updated document editing functions, the new Print To Go app, and increased control and manageability of corporate data with BlackBerry® Balance ™ allow you to get more out of your BlackBerry PlayBook every day. Plus, an updated virtual keyboard with auto correction and predictive next word completion learns how you type to enable faster, more accurate typing.

New apps and content: Thousands of new apps are being added to BlackBerry App World™ today (including a range of Android® apps that will run on the BlackBerry PlayBook). A new BlackBerry Video Store1 is launching today. Enhanced web browsing capabilities are also available with BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0.