Earlier this month, we heard from RIM that it was planning on removing the ability to sideload apps in a future release of PlayBook OS. From the sound of things, RIM wanted to both distance itself from the sort of laissez-faire attitude surrounding the Android app economy and put some tighter controls in place to curb the potential for piracy. RIM later clarified that sideloading would still be technically enabled, but with device-specific encryption in place that would make it useless for everything but already-purchased apps. Supposedly, this lock-down would take place upon the delivery of a future system software update. Just such an update is out today; is this the end of sideloading?
The good news, at least based on the feedback we’ve heard so far, and the absence of its mention in any release notes, is that today’s update doesn’t appear to alter sideloading functionality one iota. We still expect RIM to implement the changes it talked about in a future update, but PlayBook users dodged a bullet for today, at least.
So, what can you expect from this release? PlayBook OS 126.96.36.1998 includes improvements to browser performance, greater support for re-packaged Android apps, and software tweaks to several apps, including RIM’s video chat client.
The 353MB update is available now; check your settings menu if you’ve yet to see an update notification.