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BlackBerry Jam at BlackBerry Live 2013

With BB10 starting to gain traction, and a renewed focus on a new product and platform, BlackBerry is executing on some interesting stuff. There is no better place to observe their activities than at their conference, BlackBerry Jam Americas at BlackBerry Live.

I had the opportunity to join one of BlackBerry’s software developers, Travis Allen, as a co-presenter for his presentation on BlackBerry Live’s new unit testing tool for Momentics. In case you weren’t aware, unit testing is for testing a component of code. More specifically, a developer can just run a test on a piece of that code, which is different than testing the code in a live demo or through usage. The test verifies that the output of the processing is what the developer expected it to be; essentially, the developer simply compares the known outcome with the produced one.

Prior to BlackBerry Live, this new unit testing feature was unreleased. I had the opportunity to try it out by editing the source code in order to customize it to another framework. By default, it’s set up to use googlemock; I was able to extend it to use QtTest. Essentially though, my presentation was more about a general picture of basic steps, and how much work was involved.

There were a few other interesting things that happened at BlackBerry Live:

BBM is making its debut on iOS and Android platforms. Their solution is BBM Channels, which will allow monetization of BBM while keeping the service free for iOS and Android users. With BBM’s huge user base, BlackBerry has a huge opportunity to attract big advertisers with BBM Channels. BlackBerry is strengthening their status as a leader through their approach to social integration via BBM Channels.

Instant messaging aside, the announcement of the Q5 was also a big one. As you may have seen elsewhere, it is a classic keyboard-style phone, reminiscent of the keyboard BlackBerry Curve. It seems like it’s geared to more developing economies. BlackBerry looks like they’re going down the right path with it, and they’ve earned an opportunity to make this contagious to the rest of the world; I think that it’s just a matter of pricing this device properly. If you’d recall, the Curve was more popular than the Pearl, and even the iPhone at one point.

Alicia Keys also had an impressive presentation; amidst all the naysayers, she has proven to have a serious role. She introduced BlackBerry’s new initiative, the BlackBerry Scholars program which encourages young females to enroll in degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) this year. Successful applicants will receive fully-paid, four-year tuition scholarships. It’s a great initiative to support women interested in mobile technology and computer sciences. (Another great program we’d like to highlight would be the one organized by our friends at Ladies Learning Code.)

Last, but certainly not least, we had the chance to show attendees our work with IBM on the MQTT protocol and advancing the movement of the connected car through communications and quicker transfers of information; we heard lots of positive feedback, we’re thrilled to continue exploring where this project will take us.

All in all, BlackBerry Live proved to be an exciting glimpse into what the future holds for one of mobile’s original pioneers. It great to have demoed a bit of what Xtreme Labs engineers can do. It was also intriguing to watch announcements like BBM’s expansion to other platforms, the Q5, and BlackBerry Scholars program start to become a part of today’s reality.


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