After delays and dilly-dallying, Research In Motion is ready to finally, officially launch its next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system. We say officially, because the new OS has leaked several times over the past few months.
Whether RIM has done enough to really charm the die-hard BB lovers and the skeptics remains to be seen, but there's no question that the company has created a buzz around the OS. From Port-A-Thons to BlackBerry World, a revamped apps and media store, to tie-ups with media content providers, RIM has changed a lot of things. The company is even slashing minimum app prices. After all, it has everything riding on the success of BlackBerry 10. A hit would inject life into RIM and offer proof that it has a place in a fast-changing industry, whereas failure would most certainly mean a catastrophe for the business. Shares fell yesterday as speculators feared that RIM may not actually be able to make a comeback. Even so, the launch date is finally here and we expect RIM will be selling the new OS hard.
BlackBerry 10 is all set for its official unveiling
Thanks to an early look at BlackBerry 10 through Alpha Dev devices and during other RIM announcements, we have a good idea of what the UI will look like. It is entirely reliant on gestures, as there are no physical keys. That’s only on the Z10, of course. The X10 has the trademark BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard. There are a few key features that RIM will focus on heavily. BlackBerry Hub is sure to be one of them. This is the central hub for e-mail, messages and social media status updates.
Another feature that has been talked about a lot and which will be showcased in all its glory is "Flow", which enables easier navigation and switching between apps. Flow is essentially the homescreen of the OS and as such multi-tasking has never been simpler. BlackBerry Balance allows the device to carry two personalities – a secure one for work and a personal one for family and friends. The camera app is also touted to be one of the best in the business.
The camera on the Z10 has Instagram-like filters (image credit: The Gadget Masters)
Undoubtedly, one of the most exciting features of the new OS is the improved virtual keyboard. The virtual keyboard has a great prediction engine and has a second heat-map layer that memorises how you press keys and adjusts according to how much right or left of the actual key you tend to hit.
We know that RIM will unveil two devices at the event, the full touchscreen Z10 and the X10, which has a QWERTY keyboard. The phones will stack up nicely with the specifications of rival smartphones, including display resolution, pixel density, memory and a 4G LTE connection.
The X10 with a full QWERTY keyboard
On the app front, BlackBerry 10 will launch with 70,000 apps – the most applications available during launch of an OS according to the company. Still, that library falls short when compared to what iOS and Android offer today. RIM will be hoping that the platform entices more developers to produce apps that will sustain BB10.
Of course, there is a lot that we don’t know yet. We have some inkling of the price but nothing concrete. And who knows CEO Thorsten Heins might just tease a tablet to the audience. After all, the company already hinted at the prospect of a slate in a statement about the forthcoming Super Bowl commercial.
RIM has taken a lot of hits in the past year or so. This is its make-or-break moment and with the whole world watching, the pressure isn’t going to let up anytime soon. The big question is: Will BB10 bring the cool factor back to BlackBerry?
Catch our updates on the BB10 launch event live from New York here.