Today, Research in Motion has finally unveiled the all-new Blackberry 10 operating system, and naturally, we tuned in to see if Android fans have anything to worry about.
Blackberry 10 (BB10) is a completely reimagined operating system that has little to do with the clunky, unintuitive software that powered RIM’s smartphones until 2011. The new BB10 is based on QNX, a UNIX-based OS primarily designed for embedded systems, which RIM acquired in April 2010.
RIM has bet the farm on the new BB10, and, from what we’ve seen so far, they delivered a solid new operating system, with a number of appealing features.
Here are the top 5 features we like in the new Blackberry 10 OS.
For most users, Blackberries were made for two things only – composing emails and chatting on Blackberry Messenger. RIM has now unveiled a full touchscreen phone, the Z10, so it was crucial for the team to translate the great typing experience you get on a physical keyboard to the virtual version.
The predictive keyboard on the new BB10 shows up the words it thinks you want to type just above the letter you just pressed. Just swipe up to enter it. This seemingly makes typing easier than with conventional predictive keyboards like Swiftkey. We haven’t tested the new system yet, but, at least at first sight, it does look like a step forward.
Dubbed Hub, the unified inbox on the new BB10 phones is always just a swipe to the left away. The Hub is cooked right into the OS, so it’s not actually an app like on Android. This makes it possible to access it from every corner of the operating system with a simple swipe.
For a device primarily oriented to texters and email fiends, the integrated Inbox is a great feature. But you won’t get only emails into the Hub – you can access your other communication apps from there, including, say, Skype or Twitter.
As always, RIM bets big on corporate with the launch of BB10, and to do so, they needed to make the system super secure. Security has always been a sensitive issue for the open source Android, and customers interested in using it in secure environments had to opt for third-party solutions, like Samsung’s SAFE.
With BB10, security is built-in. All communication is encrypted (and they are notoriously hard to intercept for governments) and the system has been awarded the FIP 140-2 certification, meaning it’s safe for corporations and government agencies to use.
Blackberry Balance is RIM’s implementation of contextual profiles – in other words, the phone has two modes, one for work and one for personal use. Users can quickly switch between the two modes, simply by swiping down and clicking on an icon.
The best thing about Balance is that you can have apps (even the same one) running simultaneously in the two profiles. For instance, you can have your Twitter account running on the personal profile, and the corporate account in the other. Needless to say, system administrators will love it.
Android is a very flexible operating system that lets you customize its appearance to great extents. Still, the basic launcher plus homescreen combo has remained unchanged for years.
To their credit, the folks at RIM avoid threading on that well-worn path with BB10, and they produced an interesting new interface. On the main screen you have the currently running apps, frozen as frames that act pretty much like widgets. Swipe left, you get the Hub, the unified inbox. Swipe to the right, you hit the app launcher.
Yes, you can emulate this behavior with a custom Android launcher, but honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air to see it the default UI on BB10.
This concludes our roundup of features we like in the new BB10. What’s your favorite?