Research in Motion has announced that its operating system is changing once again - this time to something it is calling BlackBerry OS 10; but what is BB OS 10, what does it stand for, when is BB OS 10 coming out, and should you get excited?

After a week at Devcon, the company’s developer conference in San Francisco, here is what’s what.

UPDATE: Following a legal dispute (BBX loses copyright battle - returns as BlackBerry 10), BlackBerry has changed the name from BBX to BlackBerry OS 10. 

A quick and easy one. BlackBerry OS 10 gets its name from the two operating systems that it has been created from. BlackBerry OS and QNX. Merge the two together and you get BlackBerry OS 10.

However, don’t think for a minute that means the operating system will be a merging of technologies, it isn't. BlackBerry OS 10 will be based on the company’s QNX platform and BB OS 5, BB OS 6, and BB OS 7 apps won’t work.

Research In Motion has been forced to change the name after a legal dispute over the BBX trademark.

According to the creator of QNX, Dan Dodge, the new platform promises a single unified platform for the company’s smartphones, tablets, embed devices in cars, as well as enterprise, and cloud services.

The new OS will eventually replace the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 operating system that is about to roll out to the company’s tablet.

As part of the single, unified system that Dan Dodge talks about, it is bringing the same functionality that is offered to PlayBook users to the mobile phone smartphone arena. RIM has said that BlackBerry OS 10 will be released on phones in 2012.

That mid 2012 smartphone launch is rumoured to be the BlackBerry Colt. It, if the rumours are to believed, will feature a 1.2Ghz processor (the same as the BlackBerry Bold 9900) and be a touchscreen only device ditching the QWERTY keyboard all together. The Colt should get dual cameras, though there's no word on either's resolution. 

QNX is already a very popular operating system for cars and many of the big chip makers like Qualcomm, Freescale, and ARM see the car as the next battle ground for connected devices.

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Imagine then an operating system that runs on your phone and in your car being able to share information quickly, easily and more securely. It could be RIMs hidden gem as company’s like Apple and Android have yet to even think about interacting with you in your car. Google has hopes of letting your car drive you to work, but currently not to let you make a phone call. QNX is already in over 200 car models.

In short, the answer is probably no. While Research In Motion hasn't said so, the chances that the software will be backwards compatible with current phones like the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is unlikely. The PlayBook, however, will probably be eligible for a new lick of paint.  

BlackBerry OS 10, says RIM will "extend the core BlackBerry DNA of collaboration, communication and immediacy, with familiar 'Super App' capabilities such as deep integration between apps, always-on Push services, BlackBerry security, the BBM Social Platform and much, much more," suggesting we'll be seeing plenty of inter-app work going on.

Research In Motion is hoping that all these tools and power will mean great games, something that devices like the iPad enjoy already. The Native SDK provides access to OpenGL ES 2.0 (for 3D graphics) and Open AL (for multichannel 3D audio), along with gesture input. In short that should give us better looking games than the BlackBerry phones can currently offer.

On a gaming front RIM believes that the PlayBook running BlackBerry OS 10 would be good enough to match the original Xbox, while a second gen PlayBook (not confirmed) would be equivalent to a PS3. Impressive claims.

It is a new feature and tool in BlackBerry OS 10 that allows developers to create pretty animations quickly with virtually zero effort. It is also going to mean that the apps they create for users are going to look stunning. It won’t just be about data, data, data, but also design.

Designed by TAT (The Astonishing Tribe), the User Interface design agency that was bought by RIM in 2010, the graphics are almost PS3 in their capability.

BlackBerry Cascade is intended to let developers create "design-centric" interfaces for their apps with 3D effects, animations, and custom layouts, meaning they will be able to compete design-wise with the best that developers can create on the iPad, iPhone, or Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb Android devices.

"We will support all open source platforms on the operating system," explained Dan Dodge the man behind QNX at Research In Motion at the launch announcement. The idea is that the new OS won’t tie you down to a specific operating system, meaning you can develop a HTML 5 app and then easily run it on the BlackBerry OS 10 platform.

Because apps will be able to come from a variety of different sources it should mean that BlackBerry OS 10 will have more apps than iOS or Android.

Because of the way the new operating system will be built it won't support Java apps. That means all the current BB OS 5, BB OS 6, and BB OS 7 won't work. It was a tough decision, RIM tells us, but the bottom line was the fact that they just didn't look good when ported over to the new BlackBerry OS 10 interface.

Part of that open source mantra is the ability for BlackBerry OS 10 to run Android apps. That’s a feature that is about to be released on the QNX-based BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 update, coming to the PlayBook tablet soon, and will be transferred to BlackBerry OS 10.

In practice it means that Android developers who want to make their apps available to BlackBerry users will be able to submit the same quote (with a few tweaks) to the BlackBerry App World for BlackBerry OS 10 users to run.

The app will appear in App World as if it is a regular BlackBerry native app and run in the operating system’s Android Player.

BlackBerry OS 10 is unlikely, however, to run iOS apps due to the way they are built and the way that Apple manages the "framework" that developers use to build the apps in the first place. However, as more and more websites look to HTML 5, Research In Motion is hoping that there will be a shift away from dedicated apps to more HTML 5 ones.

RIM is getting even more friendly with Adobe and that means the new platform will support the newly announced Flash 11 player and Adobe Air. Why should you care? Well it means you'll be able to watch Flash videos when you hit the web and use native Adobe Air apps and games.

The hope is that developers will be drawn to the open platform plugging a gap that RIM has struggled with to date.

Part of that shift to appeasing developers is to really embrace HTML 5 for apps, rather than insisting developer build for a specific language. 

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"We are really getting behind HTML5," said George Staikos, the man behind the company's browser technology at Research in Motion at Devcon 2011.

Developers will be able to use BlackBerry WebWorks to build apps, which enables developers to deploy apps built using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as develop specifically using the operating systems native SDK (Software Developers Kit) to create dedicated apps; just as if they would for Apple or Google devices to make apps look good and run quick.

RIM has recently bought NewBay, a company that specialises in the development of mobile-phone software that allows users to create, store, and share digital content in the cloud, and the company has confirmed that the Cloud will be a strong element to the company’s BlackBerry OS 10 platform.

NewBay already has deals with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile USA (and parent Deutsche Telekom), U.S. Cellular, Telefónica O2, France Telecom Orange, and Telstra, putting them in a strong position.

Combine that with 70m active subscribers and Research In Motion can easily create a hub for its users.

According to Dan Dodge, QNX is the only operating system to have a certified secure kernel and a certified safe kernel. Basically it is safe. 

RIM has been coy to detail when we will expect to see the first BlackBerry OS 10 phones and first BlackBerry OS 10 tablets on the market, however has confirmed that it will be sometime in 2012.

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Based on previous experience with the launch of the BlackBerry Playbook and its accompanying software offerings it was promised to have, it is more likely that BlackBerry OS 10 devices will be on sale towards the end of 2012 rather than the start.

Based on the growth of the PlayBook OS, we can expect plenty more features to be added as the new BlackBerry OS 10 operating system works its way to release.