BlackBerry 10: Re-invented and Ready to Launch

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The 30 January 2013 launch of BlackBerry 10 is nearly upon us, and there’s a lot to look forward to. The BlackBerry platform has been completely re-designed on the mission-critical QNX operating system, and BlackBerry creator Research in Motion (RIM) has been re-built with new leadership.

I must admit that when I first heard of BB10 and the QNX base probably a couple of years ago now, my expectations were that we’d get something much like what’s already out there in the iPhone or Android; and while Apple did a lot to move the smartphone industry forward, and should receive kudos for that, BB10 is certainly no clone. In fact, I’d say it’s a full generation beyond what’s currently on the market. I’ve been closely following the development of BlackBerry 10, and my expectation on this is not that this is the best BlackBerry ever, but will be the best smartphone on the market bar none.

The biggest question I have is when can we get it? I envisage that to keep the 30 January launch momentum going, that devices will be available within weeks. At least, I hope.

As RIM has yet to actually launch BB10, there’s a little bit of speculation in what I write here, although it’s based on what’s already been made public or is present in the DevAlpha pre-release models for developers to work with. There will be some extra reveals at the launch events.

BlackBerry 10 is a smooth and flowing mobile operating system that works on gestures rather than button presses, and allows you to get to the information you want through the ‘peak and flow’ system – without having to leave the application you’re using at the time. It also has some ideas that seem so simple that you wonder why other systems have not yet figured it out. For instance – the web browser. Instead of having the address bar at the top of the screen, where you have to stretch your thumb to reach the bar – in BB10 it’s located at the bottom of the screen, and is effortless to access.

I’ve mentioned the on-screen keyboard in an earlier post, and how it is up to around 40% faster to use than other keyboards. I’ve never been a fan of touch screen keyboards, and I’ve always steered away from them, with my current phones being a Bold 9900, which has the best physical mobile keyboard of any phone, and the Torch 9800 which has both physical keys which I always use, and an on-screen keyboard that I never use. Even though BB10 will have devices in options of either physical or on-screen keyboards (rumoured to be called the BlackBerry Z10), I have decided that I will be forgoing a physical keyboard this time, and will be getting a Z10. Yes, I have been converted.

BB10 predicts what you’re trying to write, and lets you swipe to complete the word, which is where the speed comes from. Check out a quick demo of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdhZ5kFrf1g

I also love the idea of the time shift camera, which takes a rapid fire succession of photos, and with facial recognition you can fix a shot by each person’s face without other elements changing. In effect, you can capture the perfect moment that never actually existed. When I’ve told people about this, I’ve had a few people tell me that their Android can already do that, although it can only switch out the entire image by advancing full frames, although it cannot alter the image at an individual faces level.

RIM/BlackBerry has been doing a lot to get developers onboard to create apps for BB10. In late 2012, I was invited to stop into their game port-a-thon in Sydney, at which they flew in a couple of their developer relations guys from Canada to assist developers in getting their games and other applications ported over to work on BB10. They’ve been running these events world wide, and in addition to native BB10 apps, it’s expected that around 70,000 apps will be available at launch. I expect that we’ll see a few of the big-name apps announced on 30 January.

BlackBerry 10 makes many advances in mobile phone user interface design, and with the secure and performance driven QNX as the basis of the new operating system, BlackBerry 10 is the system that will have people returning to the platform, and enticing their iOS and Android bearing friends to come with them.

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