New software update brings overdue features to BlackBerry PlayBook

BB PlayBook Update 

Last night, I checked to see if any new software updates were available for my BlackBerry PlayBook, even though I wasn't expecting to see anything until today. I was pleasantly surprised to see that an update was already ready, so I went ahead and downloaded/installed it.

Like my experience on launch day, this was a very smooth update, with no need to interact with the device except for a few clicks. The best part, of course, was that it all happened over-the-air; no need to connect to a computer. If only my iPhone 4 updates were as easy as connecting to WiFi without my PC.

This is the third update since the PlayBook's release, and it brings the software up to BlackBerry Tablet OS Version The file comes in at 290MB and only takes about 7 minutes total to download and install. Some great features are included in this update that may end up making me decide to keep the PlayBook as my traveling device.

BB PlayBook Video Chat

Part of the new software update is the Video Chat app. I haven't tested it out yet, but it works similar to FaceTime. You should get improved video quality, though, because the PlayBook's 3MP front cam is better than the iPad 2's .7MP front cam. If you have the video chat app up and running, you can turn the display off and still receive a notification that someone is trying to call you, which will wake up the tablet and give you the option to chat. You can also use the audio chat option, which is useful if you happen to have a very low data connection.

If you want to learn a bit more about the Video Chat app, check out Calob's first look here.

BB PlayBook Browser Add to Home ScreenAs I've said many times before, the web browser is the BlackBerry PlayBook's greatest strength. And this software update just made it a tiny bit stronger. There is now an "Add to Home Screen" option that allows you to add shortcuts to websites on your home screen. Finally!

Other improvements:

  • One-Click Calls – Enter a BlackBerry ID email address of the person you want to call, or go to your recent call log.
  • Friends List – Video Chat comes with a friends list. You will be able to add a picture or name your contact to personalize your contact list.
  • Multi-Tasking Video Chat – You will be able to maintain your video and voice chats over Wi-Fi in the background, while multi-tasking with other apps.
  • Video Chat over HDMI – Video chat supports HDMI output, so you can use " Mirror Mode" and use the PlayBook in a conference room to video chat.
  • Incoming Call Notifications – You will get a pop-up when a video or voice comes through. You can accept the call as either a video call or voice call. You can always decline the call.

Another feature that was added in this update is BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) for those who have both a BlackBerry phone and a PlayBook. More apps are being released in the App World too and today at BlackBerry World, we saw a demo of Android apps running on the PlayBook using the Android App player.

A lot of things are happening at BlackBerry World right now, with announcements of new features that are making the PlayBook better.

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Hector Gomez

Hector Gomez is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

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