BlackBerry Java SDK v7.0 Hits Beta

Gaming and augmented reality key to new SDK’s capabilities

Research In Motion (RIM) has this week introduced the BlackBerry Java SDK v7.0 beta. This updated set of tools and APIs is logically aligned to work with devices running the latest BlackBerry 7 OS.

RIM is making much of the SDK’s suitability to the needs of developers interested in gaming, augmented reality, and Near Field Communication (NFC) applications.

The BlackBerry developer release notes detail the SDK’s new features in full. To take one example, geocoding improvements are explained thus: “The Locator class in net.rim.device.api.lbs has been deprecated, and replaced by new geocoding and reverse geocoding APIs. Using these APIs, you can perform geocoding and reverse geocoding requests asynchronously and synchronously.”

Also new to the party are RIM’s magnetometer APIs, which the company says will enable developers to create better navigation applications, augmented reality applications, and games that require changes in the device’s orientation.

Also new is the Native Window API (something RIM denote ***a***s as “critical” for augmented reality apps), which allows OpenGL ES and Java UI elements to be rendered on a surface that overlays a native window, such as a camera, video view finder, or web browser.

In the Near Field Communication (NFC) area, new APIs equip developers with the ability to set and read the NFC chip to communicate with other NFC-enabled devices and build innovative mobile payment and e-commerce solutions. There is also support for the OpenGL ES 2.0 standard, which allows developers to build 3D mobile gaming experiences.

Note: For developers new to NFC technologies, Oracle’s Sun Developer Network sets out the following definition: “Near-field Communication (NFC) is characterized as a very short-range radio communication technology with a lot of potential, especially when applied to mobile handsets. Imagine yourself using your cellphone to interact with posters, magazines, and even with products while at the store, and with such interaction initiating a request or search for related information in real-time. Other usages of NFC include the electronic wallet to make payments using your handset, the same way you do with your credit card. With NFC all this is possible. But NFC is still a young technology.”