RIM has finally pulled the curtains back to reveal its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 software. Together with its new phone the Z10, it represents a new chapter for BlackBerry it hopes will see it claw back some of the customers it's lost to Android and the iPhone. My US colleague Jessica Dolcourt at CNET.com has reviewed the new phone and its new operating system.
The interface of BlackBerry 10, Jessica explains, has a polished design with large icons, designed to make touch interaction easier. Rather than make use of physical home buttons, you'll navigate around the interface entirely using touchscreen gestures.
One such gesture -- called 'Peek' -- allows you to quickly look at your notifications window to check for new emails or messages without leaving your current app.
It's generally quite pleasant to use, but there are a few essential tricks you'll need to acquaint yourself with before you start. If you're a smart phone aficionado it probably won't take you too long to get used to, but it's not straightforward right out of the box, which might be a stumbling point for new users.
It supports multiple email, calendars and social network accounts, and BlackBerry Balance lets your IT department setup your VPN and security settings.
BlackBerry Messenger is still on board, but has been updated to keep it competitive versus the likes of Apple's iMessage and WhatsApp. It now supports voice and video calling as well as screen sharing. We'll see exactly how effective these are when we give them a full test.
The BlackBerry Z10 itself is rather reminiscent of the iPhone 5. It's tall, slim and packs a 4.2-inch display. Jessica found it pretty comfy to hold, but its plastic casing didn't have the same premium feel of the metal iPhone. There are no navigation buttons on the front, but you'll find both a micro-USB and a micro-HDMI port on the side -- the latter allowing you to hook it up to a big screen.
It's powered by a nippy 1.5GHz dual-core chip and an 8-megapixel camera lurks around the back. We'll have to see how it performs when we get one in for a full review.
Jessica's overall impression of the Z10 and new software was quite good. The OS is slick and attractive and the phone is lush enough to suit both the business brains and fashion fiends among you. For BlackBerry fans there's much to be excited about, but whether it offers enough to tempt iOS and Android users to switch remains to be seen.
Make sure to check out Jessica's full writeups to learn more about the software and keep your eyes peeled for full reviews and of course the all-important question of UK prices. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on BlackBerry 10 and the Z10 phone in the comments below and over on our Facebook page.