Wednesday, 30 January 2013

BlackBerry 10

On Wednesday 30th January 2013 BlackBerry 10 was launched by RIM. They had a conference in London, Dubai, Toronto, Paris, Johannesburg, and New York where they talked about brand new features and launched new phones.

The press conference started with a video about how different people in different jobs use BlackBerry 10 and how it is perfect for business. This is referring to an interesting feature BlackBerry 10 has which allows you to have 2 different profiles on one device; one for work, one for play.

Straight after that video followed another video about why people love BlackBerry and how BlackBerry fans had lost sleep waiting for this event. A bit sad, I'll admit - those people need to go out and get jobs.

After the videos, Vice President of developer relations, Alec Saunders took took to a high platform and cut a man's hair who said last year that he wouldn't cut it until BlackBerry 10 was launched.

Immediately after that, President and CEO of RIM, Thorsten Heins took centre stage and he started to talk about how BlackBerry has evolved over the years.
"Today is not the finish, it is just the starting line." ~ Thorsten Heins

He talked about how two years ago BlackBerry needed to adopt another mobile platform or go alone and make their own OS. They decided to make their own and they don't regret it. We also learnt that BlackBerry currently has over 12,000 employees world wide. 

The first unexpected thing which was announced was a name change for RIM (the makers of BlackBerry). From now onwards, RIM will be known also as BlackBerry. Not that exciting however quite unusual.

BlackBerry Q10
Then the two big announcements came, the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10. 

The BlackBerry Z10 is a touch 4.2-inch touch-screen device which apparently has the "latest screen technology." It has a flexible back cover which apparently feels great in your hands and it comes running BlackBerry 10. It included gestures to unlock, get to your homepage and access BlackBerry Hub - just swipe your finger in different directions. 

The BlackBerry Q10 is the first BlackBerry 10 device to feature a QWERTY keyboard and it also includes a perfectly square touch-screen. The back case of the phone is made from a new material which is apparently thinner, lighter, and stronger than plastic.

Vivek Bhardwaj, whom is the head of software portfolio then took the stage. He started by talking about something called 'BlackBerry Flow' which is a unique way of multi-tasking from your home screen  Swiftly, he moved on to talk about BlackBerry Hub which he says 'just flows'. BlackBerry Hub looks after all of your notifications from Gmail and Outlook to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. BlackBerry Hub also lets you post status's and message people without leaving the app. It also, of course  includes the famous BlackBerry Messenger.
"We have 60 million users on BBM, and they love it." ~ Vivek Bhardwaj
The new BBM app now lets you video call, voice call and share your screen via video call. It surprisingly seems to work very well even when contacting someone on a different continent (as they demonstrated).

BlackBerry 10 comes with a new app called 'BlackBerry Remember' which lets you flag notes, emails and pictures. The notes section is integrated directly with Evernote so all of your notes stay synced from device to device (I can imagine the notes app on iOS 7 also having this integration). BlackBerry Remember also lets you set voice memos to remind you of things you need to do.

The keyboard has a unique word prediction feature that lets you "flick" words from the keyboard to the screen. They call it "writing without typing." The keyboard also has multi-languages built in which are accessible by a simple gesture.

The cameras on BlackBerry 10 devices come with a photo editor, video maker and the ability to change the faces of people in photos. The video maker is called 'Story Maker' and reminds me a lot of iMovie for iPhone.

BlackBerry 10 already has over 70,000 apps in the BlackBerry World market place including Skype, WhatsApp and Amazon Kindle with Angry Birds coming soon!
Also, Twitter, Facebook, SoundHound, Evernote, the Guardian, Fruit Ninja, drop box, four square and including what BlackBerry claim are the top 1000 apps worldwide.
Most of the apps however looked extremely like iOS apps and there is no sign of Instagram.

The worst thing about BlackBerry 10 is the integration for Android 2.2 apps. If you didn't know, Android 2.2 is extremely old and as soon as you are in the Android app you seem to be running and Android phone with all the Android options available for you however not the BlackBerry ones.

BlackBerry 10 was the worst kept secret ever
For a start, weeks before the launch of BlackBerry 10, the phones were turning up at UK phone shops where employees could play around with the operating system and test out the new features. As expected hundreds of videos were uploaded to YouTube of BlackBerry 10 and even more photos were taken and uploaded onto sites such as Twitter.

Windows Phone 8 makers were probably extremely nervous about the launch of BlackBerry 10 because in some ways the two operating systems are very similar however after reading the reviews of BB10, I think Steve Ballmer and co will sleep easy tonight.

In conclusion, we anticipated BlackBerry 10 was going to be big and have loads of cool new features  It may have them however they don't work half as well as we expected them to and the OS is extremely clunky. There is nothing which will make a current iPhone, Android or Windows Phone user switch to BlackBerry.