BlackBerry 10 is RIM’s new smartphone operating system replacing the current BlackBerry OS. It’s due for launch in Q1 next year, but RIM granted us some hands-on time to find out more about it.
BlackBerry 10 was first announced at BlackBerry World in Orlando and we saw an early demo it in May, learning about the keyboard and camera app. Check out our pictures here.
Although it’s not complete, the version of BlackBerry 10 that RIM is currently showing off the most comprehensive yet, revealing more information about BlackBerry Flow, which is at the heart of the OS.
BlackBerry Flow is a method of navigating, however instead of going in and out of applications (there’s no back button) you ‘Flow’ around the phone from application to application using gestures. It’s an expansion of the gestures used in the BlackBerry Playbook and will enable the phone to be operated with one hand.
NB: The phone below is DEV Alpha 2 unit, given to 5000 developers, which is not going to be available commercially.
BlackBerry 10: Lock screen
When you wake up the phone you’re confronted with the lock screen, which has similar features to those found on other operating systems, so you can view the time, date, calendar appointment and the camera shortcut. On the left you can see message and BBM notifications.
Swipe up from here and you can ‘Peek’ into the phone, via a semi-translucent animation, viewing the bottom two ‘active frames’ on the home screen – which here are Facebook and Weather.
BlackBerry 10: Homescreen and main menu
Swipe up completely to view the homescreen, which is split up eight ‘active frames’ (left) including things like Weather, Calendar, Browser and Facebook which update automatically. A swipe from right to left to reveals the main menu (right), which includes 16 applications displayed in a 4×4 grid format.
BlackBerry 10: Message notifications
In BB10 wherever you are your messages are never more than a swipe away, or as RIM describes it ‘living underneath is a message centre.’ Swipe up within any application to minimise it and view the notification bar (left). A swipe from right to left lets you ‘Peek’ into your messaging ‘Hub’ without opening it, so you can instantly see who the message is from (right).
BB10: Messaging Hub
Continue swiping right to open the Hub which pulls in BBMs, email, SMS’s and Tweets (left). Swipe down to view your appointments (right).
Click on a contact to view information collated from their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, which is pulled in avoiding duplicates (according to RIM), you can also view relevant updates and activity.
BlackBerry 10: Keyboard
RIM’s talked about the BB10 keyboard before and it certainly looks impressive. Individual rows are split up using a guitar fret style and you swipe to swap between three keyboards (numbers, letters, symbols). As you type predictions appear above the relevant letter, so type ‘He’ and ‘Hello’ appears above the L, to select a word flick it up to the screen.
One of the most interesting feature is language recognition – prediction automatically swaps between three different languages, for example type ‘Merci’ and it detects the language is French and word ‘Beaucoup’ appears automatically.
BlackBerry 10: Personal/Work modes
BB10 aims to cater for business requirements, while still providing access to more consumer features by utilising two Work and Play modes. Work Mode is fully secure and can be managed remotely by an IT department, so it can be wiped remotely and you can add a password. Play mode can be used for personal information and although can have a single synchronised messaging hub to view work and personal email accounts, to open work attachments you need to go into Work mode and you can’t copy and paste from Work to Play.
BlackBerry 10: Camera mode
The camera on BB10 looks impressive. Tap the screen to select a focus point, which can be moved. It also detects faces, which is where it gets really clever. Select a face and using an onscreen dial you can rewind, pick a specific frame and save the picture again, it’s really useful tool for avoiding cases of shut-eye.
Photos can be shared via: Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Text, BBM, BBM Group and Text message.
BlackBerry 10: What we think
Now we’ve had more of a chance to look at BlackBerry 10 we’re impressed, the Flow concept is really interesting. Yes, it will take time of customers to become familiar with it, but it seems quick and intuitive. RIM’s also including some how-to videos on the phone to help.
With active frames, animations and a wide selection of sharing options, BlackBerry 10 seems more customisable than iOS and certainly slicker than iOS and Android. Work and Play modes sound interestingly and certainly seem a good way of unifying business and consumer audiences, but swapping between modes could be fiddly, although it’s hard to tell at the moment.
The first BlackBerry 10 device is due to launch in Q1 2013.