PlayBook OS update unveiled by RIM, includes enhanced Facebook integration

BlackBerry PlayBookResearch In Motion (RIM) has announced version 1.0.5 of its operating system for the PlayBook tablet, with a number of new features and enhancements. The news appeared on the BlackBerry blog late Monday.

First off, the updated OS includes “the first tablet-optimized Facebook application [that] will come preloaded within BlackBerry Tablet OS v1.0.5.” The PlayBook Facebook app has also had a makeover and now includes, for example, video uploading, message deletion and Facebook search enhancements.

The post also announces the introduction of in-app payment support for PlayBook apps. “Whether it’s buying another level in a game, or a new edition of a magazine, in-app payment support means dynamic possibilities for BlackBerry PlayBook applications and better apps for users,” the post says.

As for other new features, the tablet will now alert you if you happen to put in the wrong charger – such as the one for your BlackBerry smartphone. If you do happen to slot in the wrong one by mistake, an alert will appear on the screen telling you something along the lines of: “This ain’t gonna work, buddy.”

Connectivity with its Video Chat app has been improved, and automatic Wi-Fi hotspot detection has been introduced, making it easier to connect to the Internet in a location where Wi-Fi is offered, such as in a cafe or at an airport.

The post also mentions a “headset audio boost” feature. “This new option allows you to add an extra level of volume to help maintain an enjoyable audio experience with your headset in noisier areas, such as airplanes,” the post explains.

As for updating your PlayBook OS with v1.0.5, the post has this to say: “Users who purchase and activate a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet on or after Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 will be automatically updated to v1.0.5 as part of the BlackBerry PlayBook setup process.” It continues: “Existing BlackBerry PlayBook users will be presented with a software update notification on the BlackBerry PlayBook status ribbon, or they can go check for the software update at any time in the Settings Menu under Software Updates.”

Ontario-based RIM had been hoping that its PlayBook tablet, released on April 19 this year, would make an impact alongside the likes of Apple’s popular iPad and the plethora of Android tablet devices hitting the market. But to the dismay of RIM executives, the tablet received largely lukewarm reviews upon its release. On top of that, shortly after the tablet’s launch, a spokesperson for Verizon said the company hadn’t decided whether to distribute the device. Then only a few weeks ago, RIM was forced to issue a recall on almost a thousand PlayBooks due to faulty hardware concerns.

The Canadian company might believe such issues are par for the course for a brand new product, but at the same time it’ll be hoping that the release of the improved OS will be at least a small step in the right direction toward making the PlayBook more attractive to consumers.

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