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BlackBerry PlayBook gets video chat, Facebook apps

Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet finally gets some much-needed apps, including one for video calls.

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook
The BlackBerry PlayBook is finally getting a video chat app.
Josh Miller/CNET

When CNET reviewed the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, we found a number of things to like about the tablet, but the selection of apps was certainly not one of them. The number of available apps is still pretty meager, but we're thrilled to see that RIM announced new video chat and Facebook applications for the PlayBook today at BlackBerry World 2011.

The PlayBook video chat app will allow for one-click video and voice calls over Wi-Fi. Users can make calls in several different ways, including a friends list, recent call log, or by entering a contact's BBID e-mail address. A pop-up notification will appear on the PlayBook's screen when there is an incoming call, at which point you can accept as a video or voice call or decline or ignore with a "Do not disturb" option.

The video chat app features a picture-in-picture function and also allows you to switch between the front and rear cameras, so you can show your callers what's going on around you, if you wish.

RIM says it plans to push out an over-the-air software update to PlayBook owners on May 3 to deliver the video chat app; it will also be available through the BlackBerry App World.

Meanwhile, the Facebook app lets you interact with the social networking site, much as you would on your PC. You can view and interact with the News Feed, add and accept friend requests, update your status, and so forth. In addition, you can upload photos from your PlayBook to your Facebook page and instant message with friends via Facebook chat.

The Facebook app will also be available through BlackBerry App World this month, but no specific date was given at this time.