Inside the new BlackBerry: 5 unique features of BB10

We review RIM’s do-or-die phone.


Sixteen months have passed since Research In Motion released its last smartphone model, which is several epochs in the technology world. Delays in launching the new BlackBerry 10 operating system frustrated investors, but also built anticipation for the release. The survival of the company depends on the BB10’s success. Analysts predict it will sell between 9.2 million and 23 million units, making it either a huge flop or a mild success. Of course, what largely matters is the quality of the device. So, how does it compare to the iPhones, Androids and other options currently crowding the market? Technology writer Peter Nowak offers his review of the most important phone in RIM’s history.

Typing: BlackBerry users have always treasured their devices for their physical buttons, which have been typically far better to type on than virtual touch-screen keyboards. The first BB10 device, however, is all touch screen, with RIM promising a second model with a keyboard soon. Considerable effort has been made to improve the touch-screen typing experience, though. Thick virtual “frets” separate the rows of keys, forming what RIM says is a beneficial psychological barrier between them. The keyboard also predicts words before they’re typed—if the suggestion is indeed correct, the user simply flicks it up into whatever they’re writing. Lastly, the device adjusts according to where the user’s fingers actually come down, as opposed to where the keyboard appears. In demos, all of these features worked well, and fast. If they do indeed improve typing speed and accuracy over the long run, RIM will have a leg up over competitors in virtual keyboards.
Verdict: Potentially the fastest touch-screen option.

BlackBerry World: With the addition of movies and music, RIM is renaming its BlackBerry App World store to just BlackBerry World. It’s clearly behind competitors. All of the nice additions in BlackBerry 10 aren’t likely to make a difference if RIM can’t convince key app developers to create software for its new devices.
Verdict: Still a huge mountain to climb.

Flow: “Flow” is the perfect name for this feature, with your thumb smoothly moving you from one app into the other by swiping, without the need for a home button. It’s more fun than iOS or Android, but not as different as Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8. It’s a sort of “Little Bear” OS—it feels just right.
Verdict: Different, in a better way.

Balance: Nobody wants to carry two separate devices—a personal one and another for work. Balance allows users to have all their apps and media attached to a personal profile, then switch over to a work-approved one. Their employer controls this profile and can select its own approved apps or even remotely wipe it out. This nicely caters to RIM’s enterprise bread and butter.
Verdict: No need for two phones.
Hub: Communication tools have always been the core of the BlackBerry, and RIM’s given them smart play on the new BB10. The inbox—which can be set up to include e-mail, texts, tweets, appointments, BBM messages—puts everything in one convenient place. There’s also a function called Peek, where the Hub can be quickly looked at from any app without having to get out of it. Most rivals have some sort of integrated inbox, but RIM’s may just be the easiest to access.
Verdict: Comprehensive and easy.


Source: Exane BNP Paribas
Artist rendering based on available images and information. Final product may differ. Rendering by Satesh Mistry; Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Canadian Press

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7 comments on “Inside the new BlackBerry: 5 unique features of BB10

  1. Tomorrow the world will see whether RIM has what it takes to go forward. I argue the shark attack has already happened. What remains has been radically disrupted.

    BlackBerry 10 is revolutionary as it begins life far ahead of where Android, iOS or Microsoft first started.

    You may have read surprising reports of how BlackBerry 10 will hit the ground running with more than 75,000 apps including 600 top apps from major smartphone platforms.

    The first question that any reasonable person should ask is how is this possible?

    BlackBerry 10 is a predatory operating environment and this paradigm changes the rules.

    Deep into BB10’s DNA is an extraordinary adaptation mechanism that that consumes application code written for one platform and repackages it as a native application on BlackBerry.

    Don’t confuse this BB10 characteristic with an Android simulator. Once repackaged these apps are full-blown made for BlackBerry apps even taking advantage of BlackBerry’s unique features and gestures.

    Research in motion has re thought the operating system and the ecosystem of development tools. They have embraced the Holy Grail of “program once deploy everywhere”.

    Thousands upon thousands of Android developers are converting their code to the BlackBerry platform as effortlessly as water flowing downhill.

    BlackBerry 10’s operating system is getting rave reviews for it’s beauty and elegance. New gestures so intuitive they will set the standard for the next generation of smart phones.

    The last two months have seen 10% of Google’s app marketplace arrive on the BlackBerry platform. At that rate 50% of available Android apps will have Blackberry version as soon as July.

    Blackberry 10 is the Deathstar to the fortress mentality of existing app ecosystems.

    From tomorrow forward BlackBerry is cool

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