With Windows Phone, Android iOS operating systems constantly evolving, both in visual and experience, the Company formerly knows as RIM seemed very much like the odd one out, with its low-powered QWERTY devices and antiquated OS design.
Of course, BlackBerry hasn't quite thrown in the towel just yet, despite rapidly losing market share in prominent markets like North America. For one, its 2011 efforts to secure a place in the tablet world with the PlayBook, a tablet device that showcased a new touch-friendly OS, were valiant but unfortunately, not quite successful.
In the same year in October, BlackBerry (then still known as RIM) officially introduces their next-generation platform. Previously knows as BBX, the platform changed name to BlackBerry 10 (or BB10 for short), due to a trademark dispute with the New Mexico-based software company called Basis platform combining BlackBerry's existing native framework (BlackBerry smartphone OS, QNX) and open-source HTLM5 technology, while retaining its enterprise, NOC and cloud services. Moving forward, BB10 devices were to brandish higher resolution screens with various form factors and layouts. More importantly, the operating system would lay the groundwork for optimal multi-core migration and threading.
However, that meant that BlackBerry had to work from scratch to overhaul their existing OS platform and its interface and app ecosystem. Unsurprisingly, the tech world wasn't caught too off=-guard when the launch of these BB10 devices was repeatedly delays, all the way from forecast 2012 dates, to an eventual Q1 2013 release. Thankfully, that wait has finally come to an end.
Flow, Peek and Hub
To meet the current needs of a constantly evolving smartphone climate, BB10 places emphasis on creating a visually pleasing user interface, a major shift from its traditionally text-heavy user interface. The OS also strives to conform to a natural experience – hence all physical navigation buttons have been stripped down, resulting in a gesture-heavy design.
The BB10 experience can be summarized in three words: Flow, Peek and Hub. Content should “flow” continuously, with users always able to “peek” at ongoing activity and notifications, with the most important bits of information centralized in a “hub”.
Highlights of BlackBerry 10
Smartphones are no longer just devices for messaging and calling – in this era they are used for a myriad of tasks, such as note-taking, surfing the web and editing photos. To make BB10 more “mobile computing” friendly, recently closed apps are laid out in widget style on the home screen for easy viewing and re-opening. Up to eight apps can be displayed, with the top left spot reserved for the most recent used app.
Peek & BlackBerry Hub
The BB10 OS has no notification bar per se, allowing apps to display full screen on the BB10 devices. However it does have a gesture called Peek, which essentially allows users to see notifications from anywhere on BlackBerry 10 by simply swiping up from the bottom of the device. That's not all – if you continue this gesture by swiping to the right, you will reach the BlackBerry Hub, the main hive activity and communications on the devices. This is Blackberry's version of Windows Phone 8's People Hub and in here, you get all your connections in one place, be it your emails, contacts, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
BlackBerry made their name on physical QWERTY keyboards, and despite the transition to a touch-friendly user interface, it still strives to provide the best and most accurate typing experience. On BB10, the keyboard engine dynamically learns your typing habits and word occurrence, based on your usage and thumb size to offer precise suggestion. Instead of being displayed in the bar above your keyboard, these suggestions hover above the next later in the “predicted” word. Simply flick up to get your chosen suggestion typed out.
The camera software of BB10 gets some interesting features such as Face Detection, and an especially nifty one called Time Shift. This feature automatically (and in the background) records a few seconds worth of still images before and after you actually take the shot. Once the camera detects a face in the photo, you can zoom in and cycle through the shots by moving your finger around the dial. Select your photo by tapping on the face once again; great for getting shots commonly plagued by half-closed eyelids and the like.
BlackBerry Story Maker
The introduction of BlackBerry-flavored apps have also been added to the BB10 lineup, including BlackBerry Remember, a note-taking app that's similar to Evernote and is integrated with your Evernote account, and BlackBerry Story Maker, an app that allows your to create a full-pledge slide shows with music, photos and videos.