BlackBerry Tablet OS supports standard BlackBerry Java applications. Support for Android apps has also been announced, through sandbox "app players" which can be ported by developers or installed through sideloading by users. A BlackBerry Tablet OS Native Development Kit, to develop native applications with the GNU toolchain is currently in closed beta testing. The first device to run BlackBerry Tablet OS was the BlackBerry PlayBooktablet computer.
The micro-kernel architecture operating system provides hard real-time multitasking. QNX was one of the first POSIX operating systems to employ the technique of hard time allocation on a fixed clock cycle, similar to the way computer graphics rendering works – to a fixed frame rate. The kernel will visit each and every task at least once every cycle, for instance every 20 milliseconds (or 50 frames per second, in graphics terms), to be sure that no task is not attended (or no object entirely unrendered, in graphics terms). This model achieves most of the advantages of the interrupt-driven and polling approaches to multi-tasking. QNX Neutrino kernel calls support threads, message passing, signals, clocks, timers, interrupt handlers, semaphores, mutual exclusion locks (mutexes), condition variables (condvars) and barriers. The kernel is built on these only, making QNX "fully preemptible, even while passing messages between processes; it resumes the message pass where it left off before preemption." This alleviates problems of sudden power-outs or user actions that force resources to be swapped out of working memory – common in tablet applications.
The micro-kernel was designed for distributed processing, which reduces heat and energy usage by comparison to monolithic architectures such as Linux. The ability to lock software tasks to specific cores, under the control of a single copy of the OS, lets all resources be "dynamically allocated and shared among applications. During application initialization, however, a setting determined by the system designer forces all of an application’s threads to execute only on a specified core" thus reducing inter-processor communications overhead and keeping the bus clear. This approach lies between symmetric multiprocessing and asymmetric multiprocessing.
In January 2013, BlackBerry CEO, Thorsten Heins, confirmed rumours that BB10 would be made available for all existing BlackBerry Playbooks. However, in June, Heins cancelled the update, stating that he "wasn't satisfied with the level of the experience". Heins commented on the reasons for the decision the following month, explaining that BB10 really needed 2GB of memory to function well and that, due to the design of the Playbook, it wasn't practical to replace or upgrade the memory.