Recently, BlackBerry company (till January, 30 – Research In Motion) announced the release of BlackBerry 10 - the whole world is expecting a revival of the brand’s former glory.
Our BlackBerry Competence Center assembled the best DataArt developers specialized in the platform and has already released several applications for BlackBerry 10 (with a couple more under development right now). Being able to provide strong C++, QML and Qt skilled mobile development specialists, we are capable of developing new apps as well as importing applications from Android and iPhone analogues of media, business, communication, shopping, social, tools, low level testing and other applications.
Based on this experience, let’s take a look at the platform’s main features, benefits and perspectives.
A bright return of a legend
BlackBerry 10 is a mobile operating system created by BlackBerry company for a new line of BB handheld devices and tablets. It has a vast app market (App World) that offers a wide selection of lifestyle apps, games, books, movies, and more.
BB10 differs notably from the previous versions of the platform; for example, BlackBerry 7 devices use an antiquated design and user interface, dissatisfying many users. The new generation of the BlackBerry platform boasts a modern, user-friendly interface and has a sensitive gesture detector, specific application lifecycle and built-in native task manager. The absence of buttons on the pad itself is, for a majority of BB users, a ground-breaking feature.
As a high visibility product, BB10 handsets can be compared against the latest Android and iOS devices. A majority of native mobile apps ordered for those platforms have high chances to be ordered by BlackBerry 10 users as well.
We’ve carefully studied the new platform with a wide variety of SDK and frameworks based on a combination of developers’ skills, pre-existing codebase availability, and target devices. These include:
Cascades framework provides access to a variety of built-in animations, swipes, fades and other graphically rich special effects. Users will also have the ability to export images from Photoshop and integrate them into Cascades-based apps for later editing. A dedicated animator no longer needs to be hired to process your vacation photos)).
Cascades has a unique and large diversity of UI building blocks. In other UI frameworks, when stepping beyond the set of standard UI components, developers have to resort to low level openGLES-commands. This framework provides high level building blocks for many of the tricky application-defining UI scenarios. Features like Flexible List layouts, 2D/3D transformations, and mixing 2D UI and 3D objects are all accessible to developers.
An example of cascades standard layout fragment implementation
Core Native is another productive development environment – a software development kit that uses pure C++ NDK as the main language.
Core Native applies open source functionality to access NFC and bluetooth libraries. Also, it uses the socket API, gathers network status and system information, transfers data using URL syntax and performs DNS requests and name resolution.
Applications developed with a Core Native SDK, control the system and respond to BlackBerry 10 hardware features such as: touch screen, sensors, virtual keyboard, LED and clock. It’s a perfect solution for applications with deep back-end logics.
BlackBerry WebWorks SDK stands out among other available BlackBerry application development tools. It allows compatibility for apps based on BB OS 5.0 and above as well as for the BlackBerry Playbook tablet.
BlackBerry Web Apps or "web widgets" are mainly based on HTML5, CSS3 and extensible JS. BB 10 has a default browser called Webkit, which allows the use of HTML5 and CSS3 that have limited support on other browsers.
Another important factor: an extension for JS that allows interaction with system and external resources.
RIM created a powerful engine to import native Android code for BlackBerry 10 runnable development. However, 2.3.3 Android OS level is required for these apps. Some applications may also require redevelopment with the help of the SDK environments listed above. We have to admit, the ability to import code is very handy - there are more Android apps than BlackBerry apps on the market.
BlackBerry 10 overtakes its competitors
To sum up, BlackBerry 10 provides a strong set of development possibilities with open API and other advanced solutions:
C++ - for developing productive algorithms,
Qt4 - as one of the best cross-platform frameworks with helpful docs and existing solutions,
QML-based Cascades framework - as a layout-builder.
The main platform features are: gestures (pinches, swipes, double and triple finger moves), multitasking, BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry Balance and Android player (as a magic wand for needed Android applications).