Busy BlackBerry wheels out BB10 and QNX updates

Befreshenings will help your car to talk to the web and your phone to talk to itself

BlackBerry has updated its mature IoT platform based on real-time OS QNX – which can be found in everything from cars to Cisco routers to nuclear power stations – and announced a new partnership with Intel.

The world isn’t exactly short of IoT platforms: a couple come out every week. Huawei’s lightweight open source OS LiteOS, using technology from British acquisition Neul, was unveiled recently, and can run in 10kb.

Last week Google announced Brillo, which builds on its (rather more expensive) Nest acquisition. Samsung has Tizen. Or you can roll your own.

QNX is a classic M2M offering, where it gained ground long before the Canadian phone company then known as RIM took it over in 2010. It powers a range of industrial and military equipment, but it’s in cars that it’s seen serious growth.

BlackBerry announced today the whole system can be downloaded, installed and rebooted over the air. With Intel, it will “accelerate development of technology used in infotainment systems, digital instrument clusters, and advanced driver assistance systems”, and showed off QNX running on Intel’s Atom.

It also announced a partnership with Certicom and showed off a new instrument panel design, stuffed into a Maserati.

As well as this, BlackBerry announced the biggest update to its mobile OS since new devices appeared late last year. BlackBerry OS 10.3.2 includes anti-theft protection, as mandated by US law. This requires a new partition format, meaning you won’t be able to downgrade to 10.3.1 or lower once you’ve accepted the update. The Camera and Calendar are updated. But users looking for Wi-Fi calling – which lets you use the native phone and SMS apps even when there’s no signal – will need to wait for a future update.

There’s also a new version of Blend, which is a kind of secure widescreen portal app that uses a BlackBerry phone as the gateway and runs on Windows, Mac or tablets. The phone can be in another part of the world. ®

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