Wednesday, May 2, 2012

BlackBerry 10 OS and Dev Alpha Device Announced

 

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins took to the stage to announce that RIM will be seeding Dev Alpha devices to developers for app testing. The device in question is not a commercial handset--in fact, it doesn't even work as a phone. Source : Asia Cnet
Heins, who was appointed CEO three months ago, pointed out that RIM is "making incredible progress on BB 10". He gave a quick onstage demo of what's in store for BB 10:

Notifications

The new notifications feature uses a swiping motion RIM calls "glancing". In any app, you can access your notifications simply by swiping sideways and keeping your finger on the screen. This brings up the notifications sidebar, and you can decide whether to continue or exit. During the onstage demo, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins noted that the swiping gesture flows across up to three applications back.
For the "glancing" feature to work, apps continue running realtime in the background and are not killed. We're a little worried about how this feature will affect battery life, though.

Keyboard

According to RIM's head of software portfolio, Vivek Bhardwaj, the new onscreen keyboard uses a "modelling algorithm" that's tailored to the user. Aesthetically, it's designed to look like the BB keyboard, complete with its renowned frets.
Bhardwaj's team must have gleaned some inspiration from Swype, because the new keyboard uses various intuitive gestures--for instance, swiping up and down for numbers and symbols, and backwards to delete words. While you're typing, word suggestions appear above the letters and you can swipe them upwards to add them to the message body. This is probably a lot faster than typing on a typical touchscreen device, but whether diehard BlackBerry users will consider it a worthy replacement for the company's famous physical keyboard remains to be seen.

Camera

RIM's current crop of BB 7 devices use continuous autofocus and hence lack a tap to focus function. BB 10 OS brings with it the ability to tap anywhere on the screen to focus and then shoot a picture.
That's not the most exciting and innovative feature of the camera app, though--it's the ability to go back "in time" to catch the perfect moment that caused the crowd to gasp audibly. For example, if you've captured the perfect photo but find that it's ruined by someone who is blinking, you can scroll a few frames forward or backward to the suitable moment. This saves the trouble of having your subject pose for another picture.
RIM also shared the stage with some developers, who showed off native BB 10 apps that have already been created. For example, Gameloft will have 11 games available on the platform when it's made available, and Pixelmags promised 10 free minutes of reading each month for its stable of e-magazines.
RIM is placing all its bets on the next-generation operating system (OS) to pull it out of its woes. It needs to restore investor and consumer confidence, as well as flagging smartphone sales. Based on what we've seen of BB 10 so far--as well as developers' works--there may be hope for the beleaguered company after all.
Stay tuned for more coverage from BlackBerry World coming soon.