Published: May 2, 2012 1:47 PM
By Florence Legrand
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
At this year's BlackBerry World conference, Research in Motion CEO, Thorsten Heins, presented the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha prototype handset, as well as selcted functions from the firm's new QNX-based BlackBerry 10 OS, expected to land in Q4 2012.

Blackebrry dev alpha

With app developers in constant demand, notably from Google (Android) and Apple (iOS), RIM has come up with a new prototpe handset and OS to help win some back some of their attention.

The BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha test handset has a 4.2-inch touchscreen (1280 x 768 pixels), 16 GB of memory and runs a developer's version of BB10, largely inspired by the BB PlayBook interface. The phone was given out to all the developers present at this year's BlackBerry World conference to help the Canadian phone-maker get some valuable input into its new platform.

The RIM CEO was keen to highlight the fact that this is by no means a final product—both the hardware and the software are still prototypes. However, these mock-ups will allow developers to familiarise themselves with BlackBerry 10 and get to work creating apps designed specifically for the new platform. Thorsten Heins promised that BlackBerry 10 would offer an all-new experience for smartphone users, insisting that it wouldn't be just another mobile operating system. He then presented a few of the key features that will help deliver this revolutionary user experience.


 
Interface, Keyboard, Camera

First of all, multitasking and navigating between apps has been made smoother and sleeker in the new interface. Apps are now displayed as thumbnails like in the BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 OS, and you can simply flick left and right between pages to switch between apps. In other words, you don't have to go back to the menu to switch from one of the phone's functions to another—it all happens in a seamless 'flow'.

Montage BBRY DEV10A Photo0

The touchscreen keyboard is also pretty original, with a new predictive text system that promises to speed up text input considerably. As you type, words are proposed above the last key you hit rather than above the keyboard itself—for example, when you press 'a' the word 'and' is suggested—check it out in the video above. You then simply slide the word of your choice into the text entry area—practical!

Another handy new addition is a 'best shot' mode in the camera, which takes several shots almost simultaneously so you can choose the best photo from the bunch. This is designed to help you capture the moment perfectly.

Montage BBRY DEV10A Photo1

Montage BBRY DEV10A Photo2

Thorsten Heins reiterated that all of these improvements were intended to enhance the BlackBerry user experience. And while the OS is a work in progress that's first and foremost aimed at giving delopers a feeel for the new envirnonment, the RIM CEO promised that BlackBerry 10 would be a "revolutionary mobile computing engine".

With 77 million BlackBerry users worldwide, will this new OS be enough to get developers on board and help RIM restore some of its former glory in the smartphone market? Time will tell.

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