BlackBerry – formerly known as Research In Motion (RIM) - has officially taken the wrapper off its latest, most advanced operating system: BlackBerry 10. Unveiled today after months of hype and anticipation, the all-new platform finally launches as the Canadian phone-maker bids its comeback. Read on as we highlight some of the best features and improvements it brings.
One of the first things you’ll notice about BlackBerry 10 is that it’s been completely overhauled with a brand new user interface called ‘Flow’. Unlike other leading mobile platforms, Flow is hugely focussed on gestures, enabling you to switch between applications, preview content, browse additional options and more by simply swiping your thumb in a specific direction.
This not only makes navigating between menus and apps more intuitive than before, but also means you can effectively use your BlackBerry 10 handset with just one hand.
BlackBerry 10 will launch with what BlackBerry calls the biggest catalogue of applications available for a first-generation mobile platform launch - over 70,000 applications to give you a ballpark figure.
Among some of the hugely popular apps that’ll be available include Skype, Kindle, WhatsApp, Foursquare and even Angry Birds, with more to be added in the weeks and months to come.
Moreover, the BlackBerry App World has been renamed to just BlackBerry World and will serve as the home for not just apps, but music and movies as well.
Like ‘Flow’, the on-screen keyboard on BlackBerry 10 also works using gestures.
You can compose text by simply swiping over letters, similar to Swype keyboard add-on for Android, while deleting text is simply a matter of swiping left anywhere over the keyboard.
CEO Thorsten Heins called it “writing without typing”, boasting that BlackBerry now has not only the best physical keyboard but also “the best touchscreen keyboard in the industry”. From what we’ve seen during the live demo, we’re inclined to agree.
All your important communications – be it emails, messages and social network feeds are now amalgamated into a unified screen that is the BlackBerry Hub. You can access this from any screen or application you’re on by simply swiping from the left edge of the screen to the right.
Better still, the Hub adapts to your use over time to organise and order incoming missives and updates according to their importance to you. So say you’re more disposed to opening emails from a particular contact, these will be automatically placed near the top so you don’t have to sift through junk to get to what really matters to you.
One of the areas BlackBerry has always struggled was that it has been largely perceived as either a personal or a work device.
To overcome this obstacle it has introduced two ‘balance’ modes in BlackBerry 10: Work and Personal. Essentially, these are partitions that co-exist on the same device to help you to maintain the privacy of your personal content, while still enjoying the robust security that BlackBerry is so famed for to protect sensitive work data.
BlackBerry Messenger, inarguably of the unique selling points of the platform, has also been given a much-needed upgrade with BlackBerry 10.
The much-loved instant messenger is now capable of making video calls to other BlackBerry devices and comes with a new feature called Screen Share that lets you show – in real time - exactly what’s on your screen to the other person, which could be ideal for sharing presentation slides or simply photos with a friend of family.
BlackBerry 10 Camera and Story Maker
The camera application is yet another area where BlackBerry 10 has improved. The Timeshift feature, for example, enables you to rewind after taking a shot to find the exact moment you wanted to capture, while correcting any mistakes.
There’s also a built-in photo editor that lets your crop, resize and tune up your shots.
Taking BB10’s multimedia credentials further is BlackBerry Story Maker, a video editing application similar to iMovie for the iPhone.
Like Apple’s effort this lets you throw together photos, clips and songs to create movies quickly and easily on the move.
BlackBerry 10 release date
The first smartphones powered by BlackBerry 10, touchscreen-only Z10 and the QWERTY-equipped Q10, will be available to pre-order in the UK from tomorrow via O2, Vodafone, Phones 4U, Carphone Warehouse and other networks and vendors.
Stay tuned for our full coverage of announcements in the days to come.