I spent a day today attending Adobe and RIM (producer of all-over-the-place Blackberry) seminar about developing software for the upcoming Playbook tablet. If you haven’t heard about the Playbook yet, it’s a 7” dual-core 1Ghz machine with 1Gb of RAM, two video cameras, and multi-tasking.
I was there for a very practical reason trying to evaluate this hardware to be a platform for the mobile version of our software product – Licensing and Contracting for insurance agents. The desktop version of this product is a pretty advanced Adobe AIR application that automates processing of lots of PDF forms, engages OCR technologies, uses Web Services, et al.
While we are already working on creation of the Android of this product and have concrete plans for iPads, it would be simply wrong to ignore the company that have already sold 115 millions of Blackberries and is about to release a tablet that will compliment their hugely popular smart phone.
Adobe and RIM work very closely on this device. All applications that come with Playbook are written in Adobe AIR. Flash Builder Burrito IDE streamlines creation of the mobile application s in general and for the Playbook tablet in particular. Of course, the entire platform has a room to grow, but I have no doubts that next year AIR will feel at home on the Playbook’s OS called QNX.
The tablet looks likes a smaller version of iPad. The screen resolution is 1024×600. The 600 seems a bit low for the enterprise applications though. The video rendering is really fast. Flash Player 10.1 is supported.
Based on the needs of our insurance application, we’ll have to wait and see, because today’s Playbook doesn’t support working with PDF, which is crucial for us. Next year this device will support Blackberry Java Development Environment.
Overall, it’s a nice device. Currently there are no fees for joining Blackberry Application World, where early adopters can get all required software for the creation of applications for Playbook. Adobe evangelists have already created a handful of applications demoing features of this new device.
I have one more concern related to development under MAC OS (based on my observations, 50% of developers who work with Adobe software are carrying MacBooks). The requirement to have a full version of VMWare Fusion will make development for Playbook not overly productive unless you have 8Gb or RAM.
The Spring of 2011 will be a very exiting time for those who already understand that tablets are the new trend. Variety of new devices are going to be released soon, and don’t forget about Apple engineers, who I’m sure, are working hard on a dual CPU successor of the iPad.
Next year, we’ll definitely release a new version of our application – an insurance agent will be selling you term life carrying a small tablet talking to a cloud in occasionally connected environment. The trucks full of paper forms will become history. We’ll just need to decide, which tablet will become our pilot.