A couple days ago, it was a big news day for Research in Motion with several sites leaking supposed BlackBerry 10 screenshots. Well I can tell you from first hand experience that all those screenshots are real based on what I’ve seen from a BlackBerry Dev Alpha B device running the latest build of BlackBerry 10. You see, I was given the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Richard Piasentin, Vice President & Managing Director of RIM USA Sales, Marketing & Operations. We sat down for about an hour and just chatted like two tech geeks about the current state of BlackBerry 10 and what consumers can expect once it hits the market on January 30th, which is it’s official launch date.
For starters, I was going into this demo with zero expectations. I haven’t used a BlackBerry device since my original BlackBerry Bold 9000 running BlackBerry OS 6 I believe. That was quite a while ago and since then, I have not kept up really with what Research in Motion has been doing. I am definitely not a “Crackberry” addict anymore which going into this demo, was a good thing thing because I was basically going into this cold and venturing into the unknown. What I’ve heard of BlackBerry 10, it’s supposed to be the revolutionary new OS that will take BlackBerry into a whole new direction and bring it back to its former glory. It’s supposed to take everything we know about BlackBerry and throw it out the window. Is this the case? From what I saw, that’s a definite yes.
You see, it takes everything we loved about BlackBerry, the notifications, the BBM, the instant communication, and literally turns the “volume” up on that to an 11. This isn’t your old BlackBerry any longer. This is an entirely new BlackBerry, one that is actually very exciting and new and one that I can say with all honesty, I wouldn’t mind using on a daily basis as my main mobile device. That’s how impressed I was with it.
I actually can’t say too much about it because the OS is still in beta and the device I used was the Dev Alpha B which obviously isn’t final hardware, but even with that, the OS was fast, very slick looking, and very easy to use. It seems to borrow heavily from all the best qualities of iOS, Android, and even WP8 and somehow mashes it all up into 1 coherent operating system that is still very BlackBerry at its heart. I’ll just touch on a few things that I thought really stood out from the demo and what really blew me away.
Video from Inside BlackBerry Blog
First off, the device in question is a touch screen device. Yes BlackBerrys are known for their excellent hardware keyboards but let me just say, the onscreen keyboard they’ve implemented in BlackBerry 10 is excellent. It’s responsive, can predict what you are actually trying to type, and it learns each time you use it. In the little time I got to play with BlackBerry 10, the use of the keyboard was a stand out feature. It can actually predict what you will type next and I might say, quite accurately. It also minimizes the “damnyouautocorrect” feature that iOS has become known for over the years. You really have to see it to believe it but it but I can say that the keyboard was leaps and bounds better than my iPhone 5 and I love my iPhone 5.
Another area that BlackBerry has vastly improved upon is the user interface and ease of use. BlackBerry calls this BlackBerry Flow and it’s meant to make everything work naturally with little to no learning curve. It’s hard to explain exactly what it is but in essence, I guess you could say it’s the way they’ve implemented everything in such a way where information can be handled quicker and without the need to jump between apps constantly. Instead, it’s all centralized and can easily be directed where it needs to go. That’s really the best way I can explain it. They make it so all that info is right at your fingertips without needing to dig into different apps. Developers can integrate their apps into it as well to make use of the “Flow”.
Video from Inside BlackBerry
The last area I want to touch on is the BlackBerry Hub. This again has to do with how BlackBerry has centralized all your incoming notifications, emails, messages, social networking information, etc. This is where you’ll most like spend a majority of your time using these new BlackBerry 10 devices. From what I remember about BlackBerrys, messaging was always the central function whether it be emails, BBM’s. or social networking. The new BlackBerry Hub gathers all this information and makes it easy to view all sorts of communication in a unified inbox, though they can just as easily be viewed filtered. Viewing all this information usually just requires a swipe here and a swipe there and all of it is easily navigated one-handed. That of course goes back to the whole BlackBerry Flow idea that all your information is right at your fingertips and easily accessible without the need to constantly switch between apps.
That’s pretty much all I can really talk about for now. Honestly I was very impressed with what I saw. It’s a beautiful OS that is shaping up to be game changing in my opinion especially when it comes down to the way we’ll be using it and communicating with it. There are a lot of good ideas that I see with BlackBerry 10 and lots of ideas I’d love to see the others borrow from. It has all the elements in place to be competitive, everything from the user interface, ease of use, communication tools, and here’s the biggie – over 70,000 apps are expected to support BB10 at launch.