Published on December 17, 2012 2:59 PM

BlackBerry 10: First Impressions and Photos

RIM's new OS looks promising!

With RIM's BB10 mobile OS due to land on 30 January 2013, the BlackBerry-maker has been running a few press demo sessions of the new system. We headed over to a recent hands-on event in Paris. Read on for our first impressions of RIM's new OS and photos of BB10 in action.

RIM BlackBerry 10

We recently managed to get a brief but eye-opening hands-on with RIM's new mobile OS, BlackBerry 10. RIM has taken everything back to the drawing board and is starting again from scratch with its new OS, replacing the former and much-transformed OS that's been going strong for over ten years! We saw BB10 running on a demo handset used internally by RIM. However, the firm did confirm that when BB10 arrives on 30 January it'll be accompanied with two new handsets—one model with a large touchscreen and another with a physical keyboard plus a smaller touchscreen (like the Bold 9790 and Bold 9900). 

BB10 is a smooth-running OS with a design that's sober and serious, although still easy on the eyes. In fact, BB10's design seems to do a good job of fusing its business focus with increased accessibility for general users. The OS is packed with rectangular icons, but a handy main window shows you the last apps used for fast access to favourites. You can also multitask with up to eight apps running simultaneously (with vertical navigation like in Windows Phone). An app on standby stays running but is resized to about a quarter of the main screen size. Content is then adapted to fit the resized app so you can keep an eye on what's going on in the various apps you've got open.

From here, a flick of thumb brings up the BlackBerry "Hub" where you'll find all kinds of key info and notifications, including e-mails, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and other messaging services.

RIM BlackBerry 10

Even though a new BlackBerry handset with full physical keyboard is due to accompany the BB10 launch, RIM has still worked hard on its touchscreen keyboard. In fact, the firm has developed a new and impressive system for predictive text entry. Instead of suggesting words in a row just above the keyboard, the OS guesses what you're writing by placing words above the letters that could potentially follow those you've already typed (see above). You then slide your thumb up onto the word to select it. 

This predictive text function is already available in several languages, and you can type in two different languages (we tried French and English) within the same text message or e-mail with no disruption or confusion. The predictive text system adapts automatically to language-switching. 

RIM BlackBerry 10

The contact system is pretty advanced too, taking things further than what's already on offer in the impressive Windows Phone 8 contacts. A single contact entry shows recent social network activity and offers access to all of that person's contact details. Plus, if the contact info has been filled in properly, you can even see news and history about the contact's company or about user interactions with the contact or their firm. This cleverly bolsters the system's pro credentials by using the latest technology initially developed for the general public. 

RIM BlackBerry 10

Seeing as this is a BlackBerry (and in spite of a few recent blips) data security is a top priority here. For many users, a business phone can easily become a personal phone too (or vice versa). RIM has therefore come up with a way of partitioning the phone to keep work stuff separate from personal stuff. The "Work" mode can be set up with password protection, and instantly gets rid of your personal content to turn the smartphone into a full-on business phone. It can be easily set up via a company server too. 

From this first hands-on with BB10, we'd like to think that there are better days ahead for RIM and its upcoming smartphone range. The OS is smooth, finally feels up to date, and is even one step ahead of the competition on certain fronts. All in all, this OS is testimony to a necessary and well-managed turning point for the Canadian tech firm. All RIM has to do now is convince pro and consumer users to make the switch when the OS lands in a few weeks' time. 
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