Research In Motion (RIM) used its annual BlackBerry World conference to demonstrate a few of the key features coming in its BlackBerry OS 10 software, due later in the year.
Joseph Hanlon travelled to BlackBerry World as a guest of Research in Motion.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins helped demo BlackBerry OS 10, starting with the home screen. There wasn't much information offered as to how each of the swatches on-screen worked; whether they were fully functional widgets, like in Android, the Live Tiles in Windows Phone or something completely different.
We're not 100 per cent sure that this is the official naming, but Heins referred to this multitasking view as the Flow, stressing that users needn't be aware of which applications are active, rather focusing on the tasks they are trying to accomplish. Heins also told the audience at the keynote that BlackBerry OS 10 would offer real-time background processing for all active apps.
BlackBerry OS 10 will keep the unified inbox view, common with current-generation BlackBerry devices running on OS 7.
Email now has a very clean, very minimal layout.
Attachments in an email will appear in line with the email message they are associated with.
This image shows how OS 10 will handle the interruption of a phone call while reading email, as an example. Rather than a full-screen takeover, notifications are only offered a portion of the screen.
Answering a call requires a swiping gesture. Given the use of gesture-based commands in the PlayBook OS, we're guessing we'll be seeing many similar swipes, flicks and pushes across the system.
RIM has tried to harness the passion its users have for its physical keyboards in virtual keyboards before, most notably with the poorly received SureType system on the BlackBerry Storm.
This new approach is more akin to some of the popular third-party keyboards available for Android, like SwiftKey. Essentially, the keyboard predicts your next word, based on info it collects from previous messages, and puts a link to this word on the keyboard. Users can then swipe up from this first letter to enter the entire word in a single keystroke.
You can see more clearly in this image how the position of the predicted words is dependent on the first letter of the words predicted. This is a clever evolution of the SwiftKey formula, giving touch-typists an advantage.
Nothing was said in the keynote about the media-streaming capabilities of BlackBerry OS 10, but it is clear from this image that it is a major focus for the new system. In RIM's own demo video, we saw a man looking at content on his phone, then pushing a button to throw the image to the TV in front of him.
RIM spent quite a bit of time during its keynote speaking about gaming, including time with representatives from gaming studios Gameloft and Fishlabs about upcoming titles for BlackBerry OS 10. Gameloft revealed that it is working on 11 OS 10 titles, including the unreleased Nova 3.