The new BlackBerry 10 smartphones have been announced and they simply awesome. With two new fresh models, users will certainly have a simple choice with regards to the smartphone, but one thing they will not have to choose is the OS. The new BB10 OS has lots innovations and features.
The development team from BlackBerry have been working pretty hard to better integrate BB devices in the user’s life by making the device customizable and offering an overall flowing experience . Now, let’s see what the BB10 has in store for us.
The BlackBerry 10 OS
At the presentation today, we got to see the very latest features that the new OS brought, and I for one, was impressed with whatever was shown to us. The new device performs very well, and the OS looks awesome.
Interface and navigation
The new OS is based pretty much on gesture navigation, and because there are no navigation keys on the phone, the user will have to learn these early on (although not too intuitive, it works once you get the hang of it). To access the home screen, the user has to swipe from the bottom of the screen, and the second most important gesture that the OS has is a swipe from the bottom, then hold and then slide to the right, used to access the BlackBerry Hub.
Also, there is a recently opened tab that shows the user in a widget-like format the last 8 used apps. Also, when opening an app from the app drawer, the phone will send the app to the “recently used” tab, where you will have to tap on it again to actually open it. This is not that intuitive, requiring two taps to open each app, but then again, you are able to view if anything is changed on the other apps before you open a new one.
The app drawer looks similar to the other mobile operating systems, like Android and iOS, but it comes as a combination of the two. While you are able to group your apps in folders like on an iOS device, you can still add apps as live widgets in an Android fashion. All of the notifications have been moved to the BlackBerry Hub, making for an integrated view of all the notifications that the user has (email, messages or social networks).
The Hub is where all the fun happens. This part of the OS is dedicated to communicating, allowing users to access notifications, BBM, email, social networks, calls or text messages. As we said before, this area is accessible from everywhere in the phone by swiping from the bottom, holding and dragging to the right. Users can just take a look without opening the Hub, thus making it very easy to check for emails and other notifications when doing something else on the phone.
One symbol of the BlackBerry was its keyboard, and for a touch screen design, it has to be a great one. On a visual level, it looks very BlackBerry-ish, back keys with white text, very clean and pleasant to look at. On the functionality level, the keyboard is very responsive and users will have the option to pre-load up to three languages for typing. Also, the prediction is awesome and it allows users to add full words in just a few seconds. users can tap and hold on a key to capitalize it or to add specific symbols.
The Lock Screen
The lock screen of the BB10 is very simple, showing users only the usual information like date and time and what notification they have. There is no possibility to read the notification from the lock screen, which again keeps with the standard of the other devices.
This feature has really picked up and users of all devices love it! BlackBerry has its own Voice Control software, similar to Apple’s Siri, but not as fun. If the voice of Siri can fool you into thinking that you are talking to a person, this Voice Assistant will make it perfectly clear that she is a smartphone app and nothing more. The robot-like voice and precise answers are great, but might not appeal to some.
In terms of apps, BB10 has some decent options. Its default browser app is powered by HTML5 and users can add Flash support. The mapping service is provided by Bing Maps, offering turn by turn navigation and all the basic tricks. But it clearly lacks the functionality and looks of its competitors on other platforms.
BlackBerry know that their smartphones are used by many businessmen, and this is why they created the Balance feature. Users can create their own work and personal areas, independent of each other, allowing them to switch between them at need. This allows users to keep their personal information private as well as keep all the information related to their work safe.
The feature is targeted towards those that do not want to use two mobile phones for work and personal use, and the feature will allow them to have the same use in one single device. Each of the two area can be firewalled, thus creating a safe environment for each of them.
We’ve seen the device take its first video call today, and what was even more impressive is the fact that during the call, users can share their screens with each other. When the feature is turned on, it will allow one user to stream his screen on the other device. This feature allows users to show photos or documents with their friends while talking to them. Although, when this feature is activated, it will not allow remote access to the device, as the person who is receiving the stream has no control over the device that is transmitting.
Although the app is very well known by BB users, the upgraded BBM can now pull information from the web for each contact. It will add a contact image for them, social networking pages and other relevant information that the user might need. This feature is very useful, mostly when meeting with someone for the first time, allowing the user to quickly see a picture and other information.
The service is also integrated with a number of apps, like Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry Music and others, which allows users to chat with their friends without having to leave the app that they were using.
This feature allows users of BB10 to remember information which they can later use. In the demo, we’ve seen how an email can be tagged and remembered for later use. Once any information is saved, the user can later on use it in their organizer to add other information on top of it and create reminders. This feature is perfect for organizing meetings, events and anything the user can think of.
Where we saw much more innovation was in the Camera Software. The new Camera app allows users to modify the pictures just after they were taken by using BB10’s TimeShift option. This takes burst pictures and allows the user to select the people in the picture and add another instance of their face for getting the perfect result.
The Story Maker app allows users to put together pictures and sounds and create their own mini-movies that they can share. Although this feature is a bit outside of BlackBerry’s safe zone, it is very cool and very fun to use!
Third Party Apps are also available for BB10. At the presentation, we were told that there will be an impressive 70.000 apps available for us in the Store. A big part of the success that the new OS will have rests upon developers to create apps for this platform, but also bring the very successful apps from other platforms.
The new BB10 is a great operating system and we hope to see it get better and better with time. BlackBerry has produced awesome devices in the past, and what we saw now has a lot of potential. Many new features have been added and the functionality of the BlackBerry has been brought to a new level.