Research In Motion launched its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system Wednesday in a bid to remake the smartphone company and return to its former mobile market glory.
RIM President and CEO Thorsten Heins introduced BlackBerry 10, as well as two new devices, at a launch event in New York and demonstrated many of the new features and changes for the BlackBerry platform. Heins talked about the evolution of mobile computing and how personal and professional functionality are converging as devices become more connected. "We will be the leader in connecting you to the Internet of things," he said.
Some of the biggest changes for the BlackBerry OS are around multi-tasking and applications. One of the most important new features for BB10 is BlackBerry Flow, which allows users to easily move from different apps and features without quitting them altogether. In addition, BlackBerry Peek gives users the ability to "slide" the touch screen from an app to a home screen in order to check notifications.
The previously announced BlackBerry Balance, meanwhile, creates two profiles -- one for personal use, and one for work -- and keeps the data and applications separate but also lets users seamlessly switch from one profile to another. Another enterprise feature, BlackBerry Remember, combines memos, calendar items, tasks and other time-sensitive data into one experience so users can better manage their data.
As for multimedia features, the new BlackBerry Messenger now comes with Screenshare, which gives BlackBerry users the ability to share their entire screens with one another. TimeShift, another new feature, allows users to fine-tune their photos by taking multiple pictures before and after they actually snap the photo, giving them the ability to fine-tune photos by moving backward or forward in time. And for multimedia editing, BlackBerry 10 has Story Maker, an app that lets users combine and edit photos, video and music into shareable HD movies or presentations.
Along with new features, RIM emphasized mobile applications and developer support. Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations for RIM, said the company made developer outreach a priority for BB10 and met with software designers from all over the world during the construction of the OS. "We've literally been to every continent on the planet, except for Antarctica," Saunders said, adding, "There are no developers there."
As a result, Saunders said there's "a huge wave of support" for BB10 from the developer community, which had been a key issue for RIM in recent years.
Martyn Mallick vice president of global alliances and business development for RIM, said BB10 has more than 70,000 apps at launch, which he claimed was more than any other first-generation software release. "With the momentum we've built, we'll continue to see thousands of apps added each week."
NEXT: Introducing BlackBerry Z10, BlackBerry Q10To capitalize on the new OS, RIM also introduced two new BB10-based devices: the BlackBerry Z10, which features a 4.2-inch touch screen, and the BlackBerry Q10, which comes with a physical QWERTY keyboard in the tradition of classic BlackBerry devices but also a larger, 3.1-inch screen. Heins told the audience that the company was aware a large portion of the BlackBerry customer base prefers physical keyboards and said the company has no plans to leave them out of the BB10 party.
Both new BB10 smartphones come with a 1.5-GHz, dual-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage, as well as an expandable memory car slot. The BlackBerry Z10 is expected to launch in March, with the BlackBerry Q10 to follow in April.
The introduction of BlackBerry 10 was only one part of the company's makeover this week; during the launch event, RIM officially changed its name to BlackBerry. The company said the change was made to consolidate the company's global identity around its most popular brand.
Heins talked about the drastic changes at the company since he took over approximately one year ago. "We have definitely been on a journey of transformation," he said, and not just for the company but for the entire mobile computing market.
"Today is not the finish line," Heins said. "It's the starting line."
PUBLISHED JAN. 30, 2013