News on the BlackBerry 10
Earlier this week, Research in Motion held their BlackBerry Jam conference to highlight information about BlackBerry 10. Originally scheduled to be released this year, BB10 has been pushed to early 2013. We learned about new phones and business features coming with BlackBerry 10, as well as new apps which will support the upcoming OS. Head on past the break for the full skinny! BBJ featured the latest BlackBerry 10 phone for developers, the Dev Alpha B (anyone else wondering why they didn’t just call it the Dev Beta?) It has a 1280×768 display that appears to have decent color saturation and viewing angles, similar to the Dev Alpha. Beyond the screen the phones totally diverge. The B’s body is made of plastic, except for the aluminum power button and volume controller, and the metal on the earpiece grill. A 3.5mm headphone jack is on top, and there is also mini-HDMI and microUSB ports on the side opposite the volume controls. It may not seem as solid as the Alpha, but given that it’s a developer item only, I’m not sure that matters. Developers never try dropping or scratching phones, right? As you may have noticed from the picture above, the traditional QWERTY keyboard that has always marked a BlackBerry as different from any other smartphones has been given up for a touchscreen model.
The OS has a multi-paned home screen. This screen holds up to eight “Active Frames,” or applications currently running on the phone. They are listed in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent at the top left. You close apps by tapping a small “x” in the lower right-hand corner. Four fit on a single screen and you scroll down to view the other four. RIM emphasized that these are not widgets or live tiles, like on iOS or Windows 8, but actual running applications shown in thumbnail form. In terms of new features, one that everyone seems to be raving about is the BlackBerry hub. This is pretty much an inbox, assembling your e-mail, tweets, Facebook messages, LinkedIn messages, and more in one centralized location. Having all of your notifications in one place makes more sense than going back and forth between applications. BlackBerry was designed for the workplace, and BB 10 is no exception to that. “BlackBerry Balance” separates work and personal modes with a locked-down enterprise function that co-exists with personal apps. You pull down on any blank spot in the app launcher to reveal a couple of buttons. Tapping one will put the phone into either work or personal mode. When you start that app it will be either locked down or fully open, depending on your company policies. When you launch an app in “Work” mode, its Active Frame has a small briefcase icon on it to denote that it’s running in a secured mode. I’m not sure if you can run the same app simultaneously in work and personal mode.
Once BlackBerry 10 is released, there will be new content in their app store. They’ve announced that about eleven games will be available. Screen shots shown during the BBJ showed a few of the upcoming games. Also, RIM will allow companies to make company-specific App World “stores,” separate from personal apps.