As expected, RIM has released the latest PlayBook beta out for developers, version 2.1.0. The new enhancements are mainly in the Android runtime: Android apps will each now run in a separate window instead of a single one and RIM has opened up access to the camera as well as to in-app payments via the BlackBerry Payment SDK. Other features include portrait support for email, contacts, and calendar, proper IMAP folder support, full device encryption, improved HTML5 support, and better screenshots. RIM says that that there may be other 2.1 features that will arrive on the commercial release.
While the new features are among several that are sorely needed on the PlayBook, what's less clear is the relationship between this particular OS release and the upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS. RIM has also said that BB10 is coming to the Playbook and we'd like to assume it won't be a long wait, so it seems like PlayBook 2.1 is going to have a very short shelf life. Luckily, RIM has also said that apps developed for the PlayBook will work on BB10, but we'd still suggest developers (and RIM) focus on BB10 and the Dev Alpha instead of working on point releases for an OS with a limited future. Strategy aside, we don't want to begrudge PlayBook owners enjoying some new features — so if a Beta release doesn't scare you, you can register for RIM's developer program at the links below.