BlackBerry 10 is RIM’s new operating system. Due to launch later this year, it will feature on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and an as yet unannounced smartphone. RIM gave us a preview of some new features and it looks impressive.
RIM built BlackBerry 10 from the ground up based on the QNX operating system its brand new OS – consequently it’s not backwards compatible with BlackBerry OS 7 and devices like the Bold 9900, but the PlayBook can be updated to the new OS.RIM also confirm that the PlayBook BB10 software update and the new smartphone will be arriving simultaneously, which we’re expecting it before the end of the year.
RIM revealed that the minimum technology to run BB10 would be a dual or multi-core processor – which isn’t really a surprise as the PlayBook is equipped with a dual-core processor.
We were shown BlackBerry 10 on a demo unit identical to that given out to developers at BlackBerry World, so the hardware is not final.
The homescreen displays four active applications, the contents of which will vary depending what you have open. In this example the four tiles are Weather, Music, Calendar and Pictures.
Much of the navigation of BlackBerry 10 is done using gestures, these will be made available to third-party developers to use in apps, so like the PlayBook you close an application by swiping it off the screen.
RIM has talked about glancing – described by RIM’s Vivek Bhardwaj as a ‘flowing experience between applications.’ The best example of this we were shown was the navigation from the home screen (above).
A swipe left takes you to the main menu, but a swipe right reveals your messages. It works within any application, so you can tell with one gesture (or glance) who has messaged you, without having to make multiple clicks or open a new program.
BB10 will support notifications, although we’re not sure how these will be incorporated and whether they’ll pop up on the screen like Twitter alerts in iOS.
BlackBerry 10 Keyboard
RIM’s worked with TouchType the parent company of SwiftKey – one of our favourite keyboard apps – to create the BB10 keyboard. Underneath the visible keyboard is a secondary keyboard that’s not visible, but adapts to your typing. For example your typing style might veer off to the right of each key, which means you accidentally hit the wrong letter, but after a period of time the keyboard remembers this and adapts.
It’s been designed to use with one hand, with specific actions supported by gestures. Type a message and predictions appear above the letter and you swipe up to select the appropriate word, down to view the symbol keyboard and right to left to delete a word. The layout and even the font used in the Inbox seems very similar to that found on the PlayBook since the OS 2.0 update.
BlackBerry 10 Camera
RIM demonstrated the time-shifting features, whereby you can rewind a few frames, using an on-screen dial. It works by capturing frames the moment the camera application launches, so by the time the photograph is taken, it’s already got a selection of frames in its memory.
It’s a clever feature and one a lot of people will use. RIM confirmed the resolution will be ‘relative to the market’ so we’re guessing at least 8-megapixels.
We were impressed with BlackBerry 10, we like the concept of glancing and the use of gestures to navigate is a little bit different to rivals, but works well on PlayBook and it will be interesting to see how it translates to a smaller screen. Although we weren’t able to try the keyboard, the partnership with TouchType giving us hope that this could be a fantastic keyboard and of course RIM has confirmed it will be retaining the physical keyboard.
We’re hoping RIM gets the first BlackBerry 10 phone out this year – and it’s completed product.
All the applications are displayed in a grid, although the above aren’t final. Close apps by sliding them up – much like the PlayBook – after which you return to the home screen. Interestingly the isn’t going to be a messaging icon, because users can access their messages within each application.
BlackBerry Glance is a very interesting. The idea being when the image notifier on the phone flashes, instead of delving into a menu to find the message and disrupting your workflow, you simply flick right and you can instantly see your messages. By message this incorporates all types of communication including: BBM, email and Twitter.
The Inbox is very similar to the BlackBerry PlayBook and includes the same stacking feature. For example within an attachment a swipe left reveals the original message and another swipe left reveals the messaging inbox (above).
The synchronised inbox can display all types of communication including calls, alternatively you can view individual accounts.
Even though it’s a touchscreen rather than solid QWERTY, the design is based on RIM’s physical keyboards like the one on the Bold 9900, with large keys and strips between each line of letters. Here you can see the suggested words, which you swipe up to select.
Swipe from right to left to delete a word
Swipe down to access the secondary keyboard with symbols