RIM Finally Unveils BlackBerry 10 Operating System and Handout Alpha Handsets – BBX on Video

bb10 alpha unitRIM has been busy flashing it’s spanky new BlackBerry 10 operating system at BlackBerry World 2012 today. Has RIM got the right stuff to take on Android and iOS? Those two platforms make up more than 70% of the market so BB10 has its work cut out.

After nearly two years of chat RIM unveiled BB10 this morning with a goal to snatch third place from Windows Phone. The QNX-based BB10 includes some new, slick-looking gesture-based navigations, a new keyboard, and some pretty neat camera functionality.

The new software development kit also includes features that should make porting and developing apps easier for developers.

Keyboards have always been central to the BlackBerry brand and so it was a brave move when it brought in touchscreens. Now the keyboard is a virtual one with an interface which is able to adapt to the typing habits of users.

It also uses SwiftKey-like technology seen on the QNX-based BlackBerry PlayBook – this enables you to swipe backwards to delete whole words, or swipe forward to fill in partially typed ones. Upward swipes on the keyboard will change its layout to make symbols or numbers accessible.

Multitasking in BB10 has also got some swipes. You can swipe left to right across the whole screen to view other apps that are running in the background, and use the swipe to settle on a background application if desired.

What I like the look of is the new BlackBerry 10 camera app.

If you take a snap but kind of missed the moment – you appear to be able to page backwards in time to an earlier version of the photo. It’s as if the camera was taking shots continuously before the shutter button was actually pressed. Trying to work that one out – has RIM figuered out time travel?

Developers will get the BlackBerry native SDK which has a C/C++ app framework. This should allow users to port OpenGL-based apps easily, according to RIM. A new set of development tools named Cascades that use C/C++ and the Qt framework will provide developers with standard UI elements – similar to what they’ve been able to get with Android or iOS.

As a Canadian I really want to see RIM come back strong but it does seem that the company is still in a rut. From its business-oriented sales pitch to handing out an ‘alpha’ handset to developers… which doesn’t make phone calls.

BB10 is available for developers as of today, though the first BB10 phone (could it be the lovely BB London?) is not set for launch until October.

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