At the recent BlackBerry World in Orlando, Research in Motion took the wraps off their new platform and, effectively, their redemption attempt. In a world ruled by the iPhone and Android, this once king of the mobile world faltered in its scrambled attempts to take on the might of Apple. Much rests on the outcome of this latest attempt from the struggling Canadian-based phone maker.
They call it BlackBerry 10, and it’s a new operating system that takes on a rather refreshing approach to the smartphone interface. From what I’ve seen in the introductory video below, which uses a device called the BlackBerry Dev Alpha Device to show-off some of the key features of the software (a mock, testing phone that may not actually be the final product to use the BlackBerry 10 OS), I’m impressed. If Research in Motion (developers behind the BlackBerry brand) can pull this off without the glitches that the BlackBerry has become notorious for, then I think we have ourselves a contender for the mighty smartphone throne currently occupied by the guys over a 1 Infinite Loop.
The new OS makes distinct use of swiping gestures, and the “swiping” approach is taken from answering phone calls to operating the actual device. A bold move for BlackBerry comes in the final move away from physical keyboards – something that has become a trademark of the brand. With BlackBerry 10, RIM have designed a rather intuitive “soft” keyboard that has strong predictive text capabilities. It will learn to understand what you’re typing and how you type, and suggest words for you. This was introduced in previous devices, but with the new platform, they’ve obviously strengthened the overall capabilities of the tool and even integrated the swiping gestures here – you simple swipe upwards to select the suggested words to add to your text.
The new camera is an interesting feature: from the moment you open the app, it begins taking a series of shots. You can then go “back in time” to select the correct photo. This eliminates those often annoying photos where someone’s closed their eyes etc.
Here’s another video, from The Verge, detailing a few more features of the new platform:
Below is a gallery of shots from the promotional video so you can see the new interface they’ve designed:
Blackberry 10, for me, is a Schrödinger’s Cat. We don’t really know how effective and successful it’ll be until it is released later this year. In other words, until they release actual devices and people get to use the platform, as far as we’re concerned right now, it’s both “bad and good.” For starters, what’s displayed above is a very early look at the platform, and it’ll be interesting to see what the actual device to run OS 10 will look and function like. What’s good about this platform from the onset, though, is that RIM have been bold enough to deviate from the current “look and feel” of the iPhone-inspired smartphone experience: rounded-corner icons, app-filled home screens, “traditional” gestures… Let’s just hope that they can extend that idea to the rest of the platform, and to the future devices that’ll be running this system.