There aren't any new devices in the mix, but RIM has unleashed a torrent of BlackBerry OS-related news today at its BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco that's sure to make devs happy in the short term -- and you know how that goes: when devs are happy, it doesn't take long before end users reap the benefits. Here are the highlights:
- BlackBerry devices running OS 5.0 and higher will be able to benefit from OpenGL ES support, the 3D platform used by many of the world's high-power smartphones for delivering killer games. There's a beta of the SDK already, so let's get cracking, everyone -- we need some first-person shooters that totally negate BlackBerry's ultra-productive image.
- A new plugin for the Eclipse development environment should make building BlackBerry app GUIs easier than ever, which should hopefully lead to prettier apps; it'll be available in mid-2010.
- BlackBerry Theme Studio is now available, simplifying theme creation with support for changing the home screen layout, fonts, icons, colors, cursors, and more; it supports BlackBerry OS 4.2.2 and higher, which means that virtually every BlackBerry in a pocket (or holster) today should be able to take advantage. The timing's perfect on this one, because RIM has also announced that themes can now be submitted to App World.
- BlackBerry Payment Service has been announced for mid-2010 availability, bringing in-app payments, subscription support, and a variety of billing options, which all sounds far more robust than the PayPal-only setup they've got going today.
- The Push Service made available to Alliance Program members earlier this year will be made available to all comers in "early 2010," making it easy to push bite-sized chunks of "time-sensitive alerts" to phones quickly and easily.
- BlackBerry Advertising Service has been announced for 1H 2010 availability, bringing a unified ad platform for developers with a variety of existing ad networks on board. If this means more free apps in App World, we're all for it.
- Expanding on the Flash partnership previously announced, RIM has teamed up with Adobe yet again to unveil tight integration with Creative Suite 5 with direct file exports for BlackBerry-optimized formats and the creation BlackBerry-specific web layouts. End users will also be able to pull files directly off their BlackBerrys into consumer offerings like Photoshop Elements. This particular news seems pretty fluffy since Adobe products are already capable of opening and saving media formats that the phones can use -- but as with many of the other announcements here, we're on board as long as it means better-looking apps.
Sure, we wouldn't have complained if some crazy Storm2 with a QWERTY slide had unexpectedly shown up, but all things considered, BlackBerry software shops have to be salivating at the bounty here.