BlackBerry 10: 10 Things We Know for Sure, Ahead of the Big Reveal
A Much Better Touch-Screen
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has told eWEEK that RIM has invested considerably in its touch-screen technology, which in the past has been criticized. "We've spent a lot of innovation on the full-touch virtual keypad," he said. “That was huge for us. We want the typing experience to get at least as close as it can to a physical QWERTY." RIM's new touch-centric smartphone, he added, is "going to set the bar for other touch devices."
A Much Better Keyboard
RIM has also improved its QWERTY keyboard and the experience of typing, period. In BlackBerry 10, as a user types, word options will hover over his or her fingers. These can be flicked upward toward the display to be accepted, enabling users to key their fingers on the keys—instead of pausing to choose from words above the keypad—which helps to speed up typing.
Among the software improvements to expect is software that learns and better understands a user with time. This includes the ability to include words from multiple languages in a single sentence, without the software flinching or misunderstanding.
A True Consumer Experience
Heins has promised not a business phone with games, but a device that consumers will seek out and want with them whether they're in a boardroom or on a playing field. Instead of trying to make games and features not traditionally in RIM's wheelhouse, Heins has said RIM will find partners and benefit from their expertise.
Lots of Apps
RIM spent much of the summer on a global tour, working to build and encourage its developer base. It recently also held 36-hour developer events, and has introduced programs like its 10K Developer Incentive. It now has at least 70,000 new apps for BlackBerry 10 in its redesigned store.
Video Calls in BlackBerry Messenger
RIM has hinted that it might add video to its incredibly popular BBM messaging app, and leaked images have suggested it has smartly followed through on this. The images show users able to launch a video chat from their conversation and even share documents in the call.
A New User ‘Paradigm’
BlackBerry 10 is supposed to end the need to return to the home screen to access new apps. Heins has said it will end the tedious practice of, "Want to do something different? Back, new apps. Need to do something else? Back, new app." It's about making the phone work as users more naturally do.
Flow, Hub, Peek
RIM calls the features of this new paradigm Flow, Hub and Peek. Peek enables a user to pull aside a screen, like a curtain, and peek at the application open behind it. Hub is an inbox of sorts, where elected data can be viewed at a glance; it's not an app, but rather works at the OS level. Flow is the one-handed way users can navigate around the device and between open applications, swiping up and to the side with a thumb, instead of hitting a button for the home screen.
Service-Fee Changes Are Coming
Aside from announcing changes to its service fees, as well as fees for new services, RIM has been vague about the details. "You'll have to wait until we start to launch some of these services to get more detail," Paul Carpino, RIM's vice president of investor relations, said on RIM's December earnings call.
The Wait Is Almost Over
The carriers want to begin selling BlackBerry 10 smartphones, and quickly. Heins has said that RIM's Jan. 30 announcement will include some sales dates. "The [carrier] partners that we have want to be really fast and early to market," he said during RIM's earnings call.