Just when you thought the old BlackBerry platform was toast in preparation for BBX, RIM introduces a fresh feature to their old Java-based operating system. Given, FM radio isn’t what you’d call a mind-blowing new addition, it’s good to see RIM is starting to offer outside developers access to the near-field communications chips that we’ve seen in BlackBerry 7 devices launched since the summer. The API is specifically for peer-to-peer data transfer over Bluetooth, which we’ve seen RIM demo with BlackBerry Tag. BlackBerry Java SDK 7.1 will also open up the profiles API, so apps can alter your phone’s ringtones on the fly. Howzabout an app that automatically switches your phone to silent when it detects you’re in a meeting from the calendar, or one that randomizes the ringtone from a selection of sounds in a particular folder?
While developers might be turned off of the Java BlackBerry operating system since the PlayBook and BBX won’t even get an emulation layer to support apps made for the environment, RIM maintains that there’s still a huge installed base of BlackBerry users to cater to, and even for the foreseeable future, they’ll be launching Java-based handsets. Regardless, I’m not sure if I’m more surprised that RIM is introducing a new feature to a platform approaching its end of life, or that it took BlackBerry so long to include FM capabilities, which have been fairly standard in the smartphone world for a long time. In fact, when I encountered the radio tuner in the Xperia Ray, the feature felt delightfully retro for such an otherwise modern device. Here’s hoping that whenever RIM launches a BlackBerry with an FM tuner (
or flips the switch on in existing devices it looks like the feature will be reserved for upcoming devices) it will at least include built-in FM transmission so you can beam your tunes to the car radio without needing some extra accessory.
If you’re a developer and want to try out the beta for BlackBerry Java SDK 7.1, you can get downloading over here.