BlackBerry 10 detailed; Flow, Peek and Hub the new buzz words
RIM has detailed more about some of the features its new operating system BB10 will have when it launches in the first couple of months of 2013.
At its annual developer conference, BlackBerry Jam, in San Jose on Tuesday, the company said it was attempting to ditch Apple and Android's approach of siloing apps that deliver an "in-and-out" experience for one that encourages you to "flow" through the OS.
"Nobody should have to worry about opening apps," said Thorsten Heins, CEO of RIM, at BBJam. "They should just be there."
Instead, users of BB10 (short for BlackBerry 10 if you hadn't guessed), will be able to flow around the operating system continually, always able to Peek at their notifications at any time and return to the unified inbox with a swipe of a finger.
It is this BlackBerry Hub, as RIM is calling it, that will now be the central focus of the operating system. Within the hub, a swipe to the right reveals the individual inboxes you have, whether work email or personal, or more social services such as Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Pulling down from the top lets you glance into the future, revealing your next couple of calendar appointments.
The always available approach continues to flow elsewhere in the OS too. Contact cards, which are available by clicking on an email recipient's name, automatically tap into and feed off other apps and data.
RIM detailed to Pocket-lint how users will be able to click on a contact they are about to meet and see past correspondence - as they would in Windows Phone, for example - but then also see any company related news associated with their account by Linkedin or other social networks.
"It gives you a mini-briefing on the person you are about to meet," Michael Clewley, Director of handheld software product management at Research In Motion, explained to Pocket-lint ahead of the formal announcement.
But it isn't just about BlackBerry Hub: RIM has also released further details on new BBM integration for BB10 with multi-language support for those that like to write in many different languages at the same time.
The phone will still have apps but, like the PlayBook OS, apps now sit on top of the BlackBery Hub like a deck of playing cards. Paused to save battery life, developers will be able to show active data in the app window so they aren't just static icons.
Elsewhere, the BlackBerry App World will be getting a refresh, the browser has been improved and games -thanks to some help from the purchase of Score Loop Mobile earlier in the year - will become more social too.
"We are going from an iExperience to a WeExperience," added Clewley, having a dig at the market leader.
The company has also further detailed how BlackBerry Balance will work. The system will allow users to have what effectively is two separate devices on a single smartphone with apps and information kept separate by an invisible divide.
"You won't be able to copy and paste from your personal account to your work account for example," Clewley explains, before going on to explain that you'll be able to have separate apps too.
There will be some apps that share data, where relevant, like calendar or email. However if you are in "Personal" mode you will only be able to see the times blocked out, or for emails, read them only if you enter your work password.
Trying to prove that there is plenty to the new OS, RIM also showed off its new camera app, called TimeShift. It will let you rewind faces individually within a photo to make sure everyone is smiling. Once captured and saved it will save only the final image rather than fill your photo gallery with lots of pictures that look the same. It's very clever.
At the end of the day when you want to put the device to sleep, RIM says all you have to do is drag the finger down on the screen.
RIM promised this was just a glimpse of what will be available for launch, which RIM says is still very much on schedule for a Q1 launch window around the globe.
To demo the new operating system, RIM has announced it is releasing a second developer device called the Alpha Dev B - Clewley says that they've already given out 5,000 of the first version - that will allow developers who apply to see how some of the new features work without actually giving them a full working phone.
Developers will be able to get their hands on the new features today, but consumers will have to wait until the new year.