BlackBerry’s BB10 – First look

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Nearly two years since it was announced, BlackBerry has finally launched its save-the-sinking-ship BB10 operating system (OS) and a sparkling new handset, the Z10.

Both are extremely impressive and functional. Both are the kind of response to the last year and a half of criticism that BlackBerry fan have been hoping for. And both are proud continuations of the BlackBerry brand. So much so, that Research In Motion (RIM) CEO Thorsten Heins announced that RIM is changing its name to BlackBerry.

The key question, that will be repeated for the next few months, is: is BB10 enough to save BlackBerry.

The answer, even if this is a product review, is: it’s too soon to say.

It will certainly help the under-pressure share price and give Heins enough breathing space to try resurrect BlackBerry’s decimated market share.

So how good is it?

BB10 is a slick, powerful operating system that is as good as anything else in the market, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8.

The principal idea behind it is you can move between apps without returning to the home screen.

“There’s no home button, no back button, you don’t press and poke applications,” says Rory O’Neill, vice-president of product and channel marketing for EMEA.

“You simply use gestures to flow around the device from all your conversations in the BlackBerry hub to your calendar to your contacts to the open internet all in one simple move. It’s smoother, faster, more intuitive and built to keep people moving.”

BlackBerry 10 will “transform our business and brand, but one that will transform mobile communications,” Heins said at the New York event, which was streamed to Joburg, Paris, London, Toronto and Dubai.

Heins announced two new handsets.

The Z10 handset is nearly the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and slightly larger than the iPhone 5 – its two principal competitors. The 4.2in screen with a 356ppi display is smaller than the S3’s (4.8in) and bigger than the iPhone 5’s 4in.

The Q10 is the Qwerty keyboard equivalent, with a smaller screen but the faithful physical keypad that has made BlackBerry fans grit their teeth at having to use touchscreens to type.

The principal features are the hub, flow and balance, says Heins.

The hub is the integrated communications app that includes email, BBM, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn messages which all display in one stream.

Flow is the term BlackBerry uses to move in between apps, which involves swiping left to go back to the previous app.

BB10 offers two profiles, a work and personal one – that lets you switch between them and keep work functions separate when you finish working at home.

BBM, BlackBerrys’ killer app, now has video and voice chat; as well as screen sharing.

 

More to come, including a review of the Z10.

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