BlackBerry has officially unveiled their new BB10 OS, the operating system that they hope will reverse the decline in favour of BlackBerry handsets with customers. In addition, they have showcased the first two handsets to run on the new software, the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10.
Central to BlackBerry's products is the new software, BB10. This operating system has been completely redesigned, making it almost unrecognisable as BlackBerry software. At the heart of the new OS is the BlackBerry Hub, that offers an intuitive way to navigate around the device.
BlackBerry suggest that users should expect to see a more integrated approach to applications and handset features than they have become accustomed to with other smartphone systems. Instead of entering and exiting apps to perform certain tasks, for BlackBerry the Hub will make everything seamless.
At all times you will be able to quickly access your notifications, a simple swipe across the screen will take you from your social networking feed, to messages, emails, music, web browsing, etc.
Detailed information will be accessible when viewing contacts, including a history of your correspondence, keeping you briefed when picking up a conversation with a business client or friend online.
Navigation of BB10 relies heavily on gestures – where you swipe on the screen, where you swipe from and to, will all make a difference to where you go. Sliding down from the top of the screen will bring access to notifications, sliding up from the bottom of the screen will close an app, and so on.
Integral to BB10 is BlackBerry Balance, which allows you to easily create a division between your work contacts, and personal contacts, within the same device. This will allow you to have separate apps installed on each account, and will prevent data being shared from one side to the other. Certain features such as contacts and calendar will be accessible to both, but if you are viewing them from your personal account, times will be blocked out. To access work emails you will need to enter in a password, and so on.
In preparation for the release of BB10, BlackBerry have been working with app developers, giving them early access to the new system, so they could make sure their apps will be in full working order from launch. BlackBerry App World has been given a makeover, too, so consumers will find it easier to get the apps they want on their phone. BlackBerry World, as the App Store will now be known, will be the central go to point for all kinds of media to download and playback on your new BB10 device.
BlackBerry have worked hard to make sure that there are a strong range of apps from leading providers available for BB10 from launch, with 1,000 of the top titles worldwide coming to BB10, including Skype, Angry Birds, WhatsApp, Amazon Kindle and more. And, on top of that, BB10 supports Android apps, too. Most apps should work straight away, but if you have any that will not install, the .apk file can be uploaded and converted to make it run on BlackBerry.
BlackBerry's famous BBM messaging service has also been tweaked for the new platform, allowing users who are participating in a BBM conversation to initiate a video call from within the service. Users can use BBM to transfer files, documents, images and videos, and use screensharing to see what is on the display of the person they are talking to.
BB10 is more than just a makeover, or update, is a complete overhaul and re-thinking of a mobile operating system. There is enough differentiation between BB10, Android and iOS to really make the BlackBerry brand stand out once again. Whether it has come too late to save BlackBerry, only time will tell, but with BB10 it seems BlackBerry are really going to give it the bet shot they have got. On top of the announcement for the new OS, BlackBerry also announced today the launch of two new phones that will run BB10, the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10:
The BlackBerry Z10 is the early flagship device for BB10, and is a full touchscreen phone with a large, 4.2 inch display. The device is 4G compatible, and also supports high speed 3G data over HSDPA. Internal memory on the handset is set to 16GB, with memory expansion via MicroSD memory cards up to 32GB in size.
The Z10 has an 8.0 Megapixel camera, with support for 1080p HD video recording, as well as a front facing 2.0 Megapixel camera that can record 720p HD video.
Powered by a dual core 1.5GHz processor, the Z10 has a large capacity 1800 mAh lithium ion battery, which should be enough to see you through a busy working day.
In addition to the above features, the Z10 also includes a HDMI port, multimedia player supporting multiple audio and video formats, GPS with aGPS and GLONASS and BlackBerry's own Maps application.
The BlackBerry Z10 is going to be available to buy on EE, Three, O2 and Vodafone, and will be available to purchase in the UK from tomorrow, 31st January.
Full details on the specification of the BlackBerry Q10 are still to be confirmed, we will bring you that information once it becomes available.
What we do know for now is the device has a full AMOLED touchscreen, as well as incorporating the famous BlackBerry QWERTY hardware keypad. This does limit the available real estate for the display, and with the touch keypad of the Z10 being as good as it is you do have to wonder at the decision to include a full QWERTY keyboard, but apparently this is something BlackBerry customers have been asking for.
Like the Z10, the Q10 is a 4G device, and it will be powered by a 2100mAh li ion battery, the largest capacity battery BlackBerry have included in any smartphone to date.
The release date for the Q10 is not confirmed, but is expected to be available on O2, EE, Vodafone and Three sometime in March.
What do you think about BlackBerry's new operating system? Is it enough to entice you away from Android, or the iPhone? Let us know your thoughts in the combox below, or on our Facebook page, on Google+ or on Twitter.