CNET First Look
Polished BlackBerry 10 OS will lure fans backIt's missing some things, but long-time BlackBerry fans will find the modern OS they've hungered for.
-It's been a long time since new Blackberry OS have seen the light of day. But here it is Blackberry 10, and it's pretty good too. I'm Jessica Dolcourt with CNET and I'm gonna show you what's good, what's bad and how to get around. The first thing to know is that RIM's new operating system is completely gesture-based. You swipe left, right, up and down to access most menus and submenus to check your e-mail and also to close apps. I'm not gonna lie to you. Finding your way around can take a little bit of getting use to especially the gesture to close an app which is basically just pulling up from the bottom of the screen to minimize it. You can store up to 8 open apps this way. You will also find that you're using a gesture to wake the screen from its slumber and that's just by dragging up. So let me take you through the screens themselves. RIM lines up your essentials in a row with your apps light out and the icons to the right. But if you swipe over toward the left, you'll see your active windows if you have any open. And those are the thumbnails of your running apps. If you keep swiping left again, you'll find Blackberry hub which shows you your e-mail messages, missed calls and social networking notifications. Pretty much everything you see is customizable. You can make folders and rearrange the app order. You can change what you see in hub. You can also peak at the hub from any time from any screen, pretty much with just one little gesture. It is possible to get lost in all this gesturing around at first. But like most mobile platforms, it doesn't take too long to figure out the flow. RIM spent a lot of time on the virtual keyboard and it shows. Blackberry 10 has some strong prediction that's built-in to most apps and you can customize where you want those and when it's to appear, either at the top or scattered throughout the keyboard. You can also select up to 3 languages for the keyboard to remember at one time. Plus, RIM put a lot of thought into how people copy and paste text. How they add extra characters and how they delete a few words at a time. Despite RIM's effort, certain things like highlighting a paragraph for example are either over complicated or not quite as intuitive as I'd like. Now Blackberry Messenger is another RIM claim-to-fame. And in this update it's the best it's ever been. You can use NFC to get new contacts in real time, like if they're standing right in front of you. And then addition to free messaging one-on-one or with the group, you can now do voice and video call as well and we did one test call so far and it works great. Stop me if you've seen this one before. A digital voice assistant that talks back to you. Yeah, I think the Blackberry 10 Siri-like voice control app is basically RIM getting back at Apple for using Blackberry Messenger as its iMessage inspiration. The app does helpfully give you a list of things that you can do but it isn't as flexible Siri in what you can say and it sounds a lot more robotic. -Searching the internet for peanut butter brownie recipes. -Overall, RIM did a great job making Blackberry 10 look polished and professional or still keeping the look familiar for long time fans. I like that the gestures really support one-handed operation though that really depends on the size of the screen and the shape of the phone as well. I also like the simplicity of some of the corporate security apps as well as bedtime mode which turns off every beep and buzz except for your morning alarm. And I also just love universal search which I've always love and I like Blackberry's built-in photo editing tool. However, a few things don't work as well as I'd like. The weaker maps app doesn't use Google Maps and it doesn't have walking or transit directions. The camera's time shift mode is really cool, but it's a bummer that it isn't built-in to the main camera option. I also feel like RIM could have added HDR and panorama modes by now. Blackberry 10 OS is the result of years spent overhauling and outdated operating system and making it new and modern again without losing its former identity. And that, I think we're almost completely successful. And I think that Blackberry fans are for the most part really gonna like what they've seen. However, the OS does have a bit of a learning curve and some of the weaker apps like mapping are gonna keep some people on their current OS. I'm Jessica Dolcourt and that's your overview of Blackberry 10. There's a lot more to uncover so keep your eye out for more Blackberry 10 videos right here on CNET TV and read the full Blackberry 10 OS review on CNET.com.