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An Exploration of BlackBerry 10's Programming API 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-dangerous-to-go-alone,-take-this dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "BlackBerry 10 is completely different from previous BlackBerry operating systems — with good reason. Its core assets come from a company named QNX, which Research In Motion acquired in 2010. Blackberry 10 features include 'live tiles' that dynamically refresh with new information, as well as a revamped keyboard and security upgrades. But what really makes or breaks a phone is the quality (and quantity) of its third-party apps. Jeff Cogswell pokes through the BlackBerry 10 programming API in a quest to see what app developers can do with the platform, and how it compares on that front to Apple iOS and Google Android. His conclusion? Although some of the underlying components are showing their age, BlackBerry has 'spent a lot of time building up a foundation for a good development community.' He also goes over BlackBerry 10's viability for porting apps and building games. But will developers actually work with a platform with such low market-share?"
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An Exploration of BlackBerry 10's Programming API

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is the API that includes bad_management() public or private? Either way the return value is doomed

  • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @02:32PM (#43602757)
    If BB pitch is to corporate clients (still) - how do they plan to attract all these devs who certainly don't care about the enterprise and much, much smaller target market.

    Our mobile app, we have built native for Android and iOS. We've had a grand total of one person ask for BB and one ask for WP8. We simply have no interest in investing the money to build for something no one cares about.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      If BB pitch is to corporate clients (still) - how do they plan to attract all these devs who certainly don't care about the enterprise and much, much smaller target market.

      As I understand it, a large fraction of Android apps can be ported over in binary form, so even end-users can do so.

      • by Moochman (54872)
        Not exactly. End users can't do it, but parent apathetic developer can indeed very easily submit their Android app with little to no modification to be sold on the BB store.
  • by inglorion_on_the_net (1965514) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @02:33PM (#43602765) Homepage

    I really want this to succeed. First of all, QNX is awesome. I had the pleasure of working with it back in the day when they had the 1.44M demo disk [toastytech.com] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_VlI6IBEJ0 has a video). At a time when GNU/Linux was working on getting POSIX-compliant and X was clunky and required some expertise to set up, QNX offered an OS with POSIX-compliance, real-time capabilities, a package manager, a GUI that worked out of the box, and managed to produce a 1.44M bootable diskette that showed off the OS with GUI and web browser.

    Secondly, I want my software to be efficient. I'm sure you can do great things with J2ME, Dalvik, or even HTHL and JavaScript. But if you want the best performance or resources are at a premium (hello, battery-powered mobile devices!), you can do better by being closer to the metal. And we have APIs and programming languages that allow us to program closer to the metal. BlackBerry allows us to use those APIs and languages. The author of TFA makes fun of the BlackBerry APIs being in C. I see that as an advantage. You can easily build abstractions on top of low-level APIs. Getting efficiency back once it's been lost in someone's abstraction layer isn't as easy.

    So, while it seems popular to make fun of BlackBerry these days, I really want them to succeed. I think they've made a great product that deserves our consideration. Of course, they have low market share and strong competitors - but then again, so did Apple when they launched the iPhone, and Google when they launched Android.

    • by Qwavel (733416)

      Yes, we all want our mobile apps to be efficient, but please don't lump Davlik in with javascript. I concede that Java/Davlik are not quite as efficient as native code, but running an Android app on your phone is not in the same league of inefficiency as using a web app.

      While I admire Google's continued to push to improve and promote the web, their continued insistence that web apps are the future even for mobile - in spite of Android doing so well - seems crazy to me.

    • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @02:53PM (#43603005) Homepage

      First of all, QNX is awesome.

      It is. It's a real-time microkernel based OS. The kernel is about 60K bytes. All it does is manage memory, timers, and message passing. Everything else is in user space. There is a hard upper bound on interrupt lockout time, and it's around a microsecond.

      This is what you want to control complex real-time systems that need tight coordination. All the Boston Dynamics robots, BigDog, ATLAS, etc. run QNX. The servo loops are running at 1KHz on those robots. Tight real-time coordination of all those complex motions requires a true real-time OS. (The robots that run ROS/Linux are more sluggish.)

      But, after totally botched marketing, the death of the main designer, two sales of the company (to Harmon and then RIM), and transitions from closed source to open source to closed source to open source to closed source again, QNX, the company, has blown it.

      None of this has any bearing on smartphone sales. They're not a hard real time problem. You could write the entire UI in HTML/CSS/Javascript and it would work fine on current processors.

      • That's what I was thinking. I was a sysadmin at a small EE firm building testing stations. All the CNC systems we built that had to be extremely precise and relied on the high end microcontrollers and actuators invariably ran QNX. The systems that could be cheaper and less robust overall tended to run National Instruments controllers with LabView applications on Windows XP, which were cheaper both to develop and to deploy.

      • by Animats (122034)

        You could write the entire UI in HTML/CSS/Javascript and it would work fine on current processors.

        Just after I wrote that, it's demoed. [slashdot.org]

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Of course, they have low market share and strong competitors - but then again, so did Apple when they launched the iPhone, and Google when they launched Android.

      Apple and Google both succeeded for different reasons. Apple succeeded because they introduced a revolutionary device. When everybody else was moving to full QWERTY keyboards and sliding form factors, Apple went with a single, simple, touch screen. They effectively created a completely new segment of the phone market for themselves. That, coupled with Jobs' reality distortion field, launched the iPhone into history.

      Google saw Apple's stragglehold of this new market, and decided they wanted a piece of that m

      • by dfghjk (711126)

        "Apple and Google both succeeded for different reasons. Apple succeeded because they introduced a revolutionary device. When everybody else was moving to full QWERTY keyboards and sliding form factors, Apple went with a single, simple, touch screen. They effectively created a completely new segment of the phone market for themselves. That, coupled with Jobs' reality distortion field, launched the iPhone into history.

        Google saw Apple's stragglehold of this new market, and decided they wanted a piece of that

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      First of all, QNX is awesome

      That will not get you a user base. You need to add Bling.. lot's of big fat, cpu grinding Bling. Users want Pretty and they want it Fast. .. a few poniez on the wallpaper selections help too. I'm not kidding.

  • by gmuslera (3436)
    That is QT/QML means that it could be ported (or just recompiled) to Linux, Ubuntu Touch, Sailfish, or other platforms that don't have QT included but that is available (and that means most of alternatives). Is not a dead end, but a good training camp if not successful. Focusing where possible in what is not platform specific will help too.
  • Their tablet is really fast and slim but with no update to BB10, devs can only port older droid apps (from what I understand 2.3 and older) Comon bring out BB10 for the PB.

    • Two problems with updating to BB10 telling me it won't happen.
      Blackberry's CEO says Tablets will be dead in 5 years so that is not giving me the impression that supporting their aging tablet is something they'll put a priority on.
      The other issue is the Playbook specs. Seems the processor and memory in the Playbook are below those of the Z10 so some fear the BB10 Os may not run very well on the Playbook.

      I do hope I am wrong as I am also a Playbook owner and quite happy with it.
  • Surely I can't be the only one that remembers when QNX made their source code available (under a look but don't touch license). It was very educational and useful. I even found a couple bugs and submitted fixes for them. But then they revoked access to the code just before RIM bought them. Too bad. I learned long ago not to depend on closed source operating systems. When Blackberry unlocks the source code, I'll buy one and start developing. Until then, I'll stick to Android.
  • "But what really makes or breaks a phone is the quality (and quantity) of its third-party apps."

    Pundits keep saying this (over and over and over), but I tend to disagree. I and everybody I know who have Windows Phones generally don't see "apps" as a problem. Personally, there aren't any "apps" that are a deal breaker for me, because I use my phone for business. Games and "apps" are for the laptops.
    • by Shados (741919)

      There's productivity apps though. You SHOULD be able to find almost anything you need for all iOS, Android and Windows Phone at this point, but the quality differs widely.

      On tablets, you have Penultimate for iOS for example. I'm an android user. We have semi-equivalent apps, but none are as good.

      Exchange support: On Android, the best one is Touchdown. It works, but it looks like crap, and drains battery like crazy. The Windows Phone support is better (amusingly enough, not as good as Windows Mobile was thou

  • Compatibility is a two edged sword. Being able to easily port Android apps makes that the easy path - develop for Android, still get BB support.. why would you bother writing for the BB API? That means your platform gets more apps to start, but very few unique ones - and many that don't make best use of your unique features/APIs.

  • by stanlyb (1839382)
    Short answer: NO
    Long answer: NO.
  • BlackBerry support QT4.8, and 5.0 can be compiled. Digia (who now own QT) have ported it to Android and IOS, with Win8 on the horizon.

    Finally, portable C++ apps.

    And if you prefer something standards-compliant, you can code in HTML5 and embed that as an app.

    Btw if you you do create web apps, BlackBerry own and develop the Ripple emulator.

    What's not to like?

  • "But what really makes or breaks a phone is the quality (and quantity) of its third-party apps."

    Oy, this makes me feel really old. I remember when what made or broke a phone was its ability to make and receive calls well. What's worse, maybe, it's what I still select phones by.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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