RIM adds APIs for new types of applications

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) is hoping to expand the types of applications developers can make for its BlackBerry handheld by adding APIs (application programming interfaces) to the BlackBerry Java Development Environment.

The new APIs will let developers access additional functions in the phones, including audio, messaging and mapping, to build social networking, location-based, multimedia and other kinds of applications, RIM said.

The new mobile multimedia API will allow developers to embed custom audio and video content into applications and invoke the BlackBerry media player. In addition, new APIs support a variety of audio file formats including MP3, WAV, WMA (Windows Media Audio) and AAC (Advanced Audio Coding).

A new camera API offers the opportunity to build applications that can access pictures taken with the camera as well as applications that can receive notification when photos are taken.

Developers can also use a BlackBerry Messenger API, which offers access to presence and contact information and the capability to send peer-to-peer messages.

New APIs that provide access to location information from a local or external GPS (Global Positioning System) device and an API for BlackBerry Maps, which provides geo-code and mapping data, will allow developers to create custom mapping and location applications.

RIM is also working on releasing additional APIs, including support for 3D graphics, MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) and SMS (Short Message Service).

The BlackBerry Java Development Environment is based on Java Micro Edition and includes APIs that enable integration with BlackBerry phones and applications. More than 125,000 developers have downloaded the BlackBerry JDE and around 500 software organizations participate in the BlackBerry ISV Alliance, a program that supports software developers, RIM said.

The BlackBerry is best known for its wireless e-mail application. However, with increasing competition in the market from companies including Microsoft Corp. as well as a host of independent mobile e-mail providers, RIM has been working to support the development of additional capabilities on BlackBerry phones. The new APIs may result in the availability of capabilities that may attract new users to the BlackBerry.

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