Here’s a look at the first new devices on the BlackBerry 10 platform that’s being unveiled today, a hail mary by the company formerly known as Research In Motion.
Along with the new platform and handsets, RIM announced that it’s changing its name to BlackBerry.
Whether the company can ever regain its stature as the leading smartphone is questionable. For now it’s likely to battle with Microsoft for the lower tier of the market beneath the iPhone and Android devices.
Ovum analyst Adam Leach said the new platform will benefit from having 70,000 apps available at launch.
“However, Ovum believes that despite a well-designed Blackberry 10 platform, that will certainly attract short-term interest from existing users the company will struggle to appeal to a wider audience and in the long-term will become a niche player in the smartphone market,” he said in a release.
Like Windows Phone, BlackBerry 10 differentiates itself with a strikingly different interface and some cool new tricks that may appeal to the hyper-connected types who embraced the original BlackBerry as an essential work tool.
There are some similarities with the new touch interface in Windows 8 and “peeks” in the new version of Office, all of which are making it easier for people to multitask without opening and closing screens and apps.
BlackBerry 10 lets you quickly move between apps – such as mail and calendaring – with quick gestures. While using mail, you can slide a finger to call up a sidebar of folder icons. (I’m not covering the BB10 launch in New York but was given a demo at CES in January.)
If you can’t wait to get one of the new BlackBerries, head north. The first handsets go on sale in Canada starting Feb. 5 for around $150 on a three-year contract. They’ll come to U.S. carriers in March; prices haven’t yet been disclosed but they’ll probably be under $200 on a contract.
Here’s the BlackBerry Z10 that has a touchscreen keypad and LTE capability:
Here’s the Q10 with a physical keypad:
Here’s a look at how you can slide out a menu while using an application:
Here’s the new BlackBerry on-screen keypad, which has handy dividers between rows of keys and suggests words as you type. Especially cool to me is that the keyboard can show suggestions in different languages – it’s a global phone, designed in Ontario with bilingual users in mind:
The interface also uses dial controls, such as this dial on the camera app. This one can be used to scroll back through a burst sequence of photos, so you can pick and choose elements from different shots. In the example shown, you can dial back to when the subject’s eyes were open, copy that element and paste the open eyes into a later shot:
BlackBerry 10 can also toggle between home and work modes, with the work side controlled by policies managed by corporate technology managers. BlackBerry calls the feature “Balance” but employees may call it “overtime” and employers may call it “dawdling” depending on how it’s used:
Here’s a video demo provided by BlackBerry of the interface, showing how you can move between apps and folders with simple gestures: