Five features we like about the new Blackberry 10

January 30, 2013
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Blackberry CEO Z10 launch thorsten launch

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.

Smart Keyboard

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.

Unified inbox – Blackberry Hub

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.

Super secure

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

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.

Innovative interface

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?

Comments

  • Brad Ward

    I’m excited this isn’t a direct copy of another OS. *cough* Tizen. *cough*

    • MasterMuffin

      *cough* MeeGo/Sailfish *cough*

  • Peterson Silva

    Nice! I’ll wait until SwiftKey implements that kind of keyboard and then I’ll see if I like it :-)

  • Filip Justin

    I can name an Android alternative for each of the features on BB10: SwiftKey(BB Keyboard), Just about any smartphone(all messages stacked in one place), Samsung SAFE(BB Security), Google’s 4.2 multiple users(Multiple user modes) and probably most of the respectable custom launchers out there(UI).

    • spacekobra

      I can tell you that you’re wrong. Swiftkey is great, I use it everyday. But it doesn’t mean that Blackberry didn’t make a good keyboard.
      All messages stacked in one place? uh…. are we using the same phones?
      Samsung safe isn’t available on all phones, so advantage BB10.
      Multiple users is not the same as having an IT regulated section.
      And that last one is grasping at straws. The UI’s are totally different so they cannot compare.

      Why do people have to be so bigoted and act like a child when something new and different shows up?

      • Reginald Spence II

        Yeah, I’m a huge Android fan, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested when other things hit the market. Never close off your options and always stay in the know. Helps when friends and relatives ask you for your valued opinion in the tech world.

        • spacekobra

          Same, I love my Gnex to bits. Best phone I’ve ever owned. (I’ve owned BB, iOS and WP7) but it doesn’t make those phones bad. They just aren’t what I wanted.

        • Filip Justin

          It doesn’t mean I’m closed(as a matter of fact everyone at my school or in my family asks for my advice).. It’s just not worth switching to a platform just because of these features.. Those were just alternatives on an already popular OS..

      • Filip Justin

        Umm, yeah, I can also add that there are even more alternatives to SwiftKey.. Swype, Android 4.2 keyboard.. About the messages stacked in one place, I can just tell you about TimeScape from Sony, which is the most complex but there are other phones that have this basic functionality even as a widget.. Samsung SAFE is on 2 phones(S3 and Note 2) just like the 2 BB10 phones(Z10 and Q10) that have been announced(I’m not considering older BB phones as they really aren’t modern smartphones).. I suppose you can do a business thing with the multiple account thing on 4.2; Just as a boss you can create an account that you set up with all the applications you purchase from the Play Store and then you can share with all your employees.. As for the UI, i can think of a swype based alternative with TSF Shell, a custom launcher that you can modify to suit what swypes you want..

        • spacekobra

          WHY ARE YOU SUGGESTING FEATURES THAT YOU HAVE TO GO OUT OF THE WAY TO GET?

          Ugh… Core features are things built into the OS. If I had an HTC Android my device is not as secure as a blackberry and I wouldn’t have that Sony thing either. Or 4.2 for that matter right now. These features are there right out of the box and don’t cost any extra.

          And no, its not the same. 4.2 can not be managed by IT.

          Again, I do not see these features you have made on android. These are all things that you have to get on your own.

          • emocrazy

            But that’s the power of android, not all people want the BBish feature and for those who want it, they can always customize it to their heart’s content as long as it’s possible unlike closed/minimum customize ability that other OS such as BB has.

          • spacekobra

            I agree, no worries. I’m just a little ticked off that he was so quick to dismiss BB10 because you can download similar things for your Android. Especially since BB10 does some of these features really well.

          • mena

            well you will need to go out for google apps, no siri or google now.

            so you tell me that all of you need IT managemend? use apps from symantec and mcafee and you will mange all your mobile devices (droid, ios, bb, windows phone).

          • spacekobra

            I still think android is better bud, I just think that dismissing BB10 so quickly is dumb. It’s for 2 different markets. Blackberry is still a better business ecosystem. That’s all.

        • intvidia

          You really like far fetched stuff dont you? Like a software equivalent to the fanboys who say people are stupid if they buy anything else than Nexus 4.

  • raindog469

    “translate the great typing experience you get on a physical keyboard to the virtual version.”

    Wow, really? I can type on the Blackberry 10 virtual keyboard without ever looking at the phone or dealing with autocorrect? Neat trick.

  • 519tbarr

    It reminds me of Palm Web OS 2.0 a lot. Just some refined edges.

    • mena

      and the new ubuntu mobile

  • http://www.facebook.com/ichuck7 Charles Chambers

    What launcher are you talking about that emulates this? I always enjoy trying out new launchers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sam.hsiang Sam Hsiang

    ah… not impressed… The storage ought to be 64GB by this year I will say. The service provider is trying to get us use the clouding service so they can charge us on the data usage and collect our information.

    • Antonnin

      Not sure I agree with you there, the Z10 gives you additional options with expandable storage, which is potentially limitless (just label those micro sd cards) as do other high end Android devices, persons who use cloud services use them as a personal choice and also for their own convenience. There’s no real need for a 64GB device when you have an SD card slot, that you can swap at your convenience, a couple movies on this one or a couple photos on another frees up tonnes of memory on your device, keep those important documents backed up to your email and viola. I myself don’t personally see the logic around uploading my own stuff to the cloud, then eating up your data plan to re-download it again, I would only use the cloud as a backup utility, but as I said earlier, to each his own.

  • http://www.buraq-technologies.com/ ambreen11

    The killer whiteboard feature would be to add in some OCR magic to the
    high-res photos, and/or tie in the PlayBook to a smart board and have
    group sharing vis multiple PlayBooks in a room… did I just give away a
    cool app idea? I think so…

  • Wes

    I’m not exactly sure what Android fans have to ‘worry’ about. I hope this is a huge success and really pushes the market. We’re all consumers, here. Competition is a very good thing for us. I mean, just look at what the whole Kindle tablet battle produced: an excellent, 7″ Nexus tablet and a much improved Kindle tablet that is the same price as the old one.

    We shouldn’t be rabid fanboys. Even preferring Andorid, we should want to see as much competition in the market as possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1911005 Thomas Edwards

    Think the biggest issue for BB10 is going to be that RIM is behind the curve on hardware and form factors compared to the Android ecosystem, but if they can retro-engineer Android applications, capitalize on their brand image and conserve or expand their enterprise market they may be able to hang in there. I honestly have higher hopes for RIM than I do for Nokia at this point, at least they have a CEO who isn’t a shill for microsoft.

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  • http://www.y8friv.asia/ Friv 4

    I like your bold viewpoints on this subject.