With the 4G BlackBerry PlayBook launch coming soon, RIM is preparing to push out the PlayBook OS 2.1 update. a beta version is expected to arrive soon, but the changelog has leaked to the web and it gives a good look at what you can expect from OS 2.1 when it arrives.
Tops on the list are improvements to the Android Player. Your PlayBook will no longer run converted Android apps inside a single application space. From 2.1 onward, they’ll appear individually in the task switcher just like native PlayBook apps always have. Android apps will also finally have access to the PlayBook’s cameras, which was a significant shortcoming that really needed to be addressed.
These improvements would be even better if there was still a way to sideload any Android APK you wanted, but Dingleberry development seems to have stalled over the past couple of months.
BlackBerry Bridge support for BBM arrived in PlayBook OS 2, and now text messaging is being added on as well. Bridge has also been tweaked so that data will be pushed via Wi-Fi whenever available regardless of your phone’s data connection setting. RIM has also improved IMAP support in the PlayBook’s email app which, along with the calendar and contacts apps, has gotten a new portrait mode. Print to Go is no longer limited to receiving documents from its current Wi-Fi network, so you can zap a file to it at home from your desktop at work.
Other improvements include support for video chat over 4G connections (necessary for that new PlayBook with LTE and HSPA), more flexible folder synchronization, and support for in-app payments.
Two big annoyances for new PlayBook purchasers have also finally been remedied: you are no longer required to install OS updates prior to using your new tablet, and you don’t have to configure a wireless connection either.
All in all, it’s a solid incremental update. It’s not BlackBerry 10, but it’ll have to do for now.