RIM has taken to the stage to introduce the world to its new operating system, BlackBerry 10, at events in London, New York, Toronto, Paris, Johannesburg, Dubai, Jakarta and New Delhi.
With previews and leaks acting as a precursor to the launch, there's perhaps little left to surprise those looking to move to the latest generation of BlackBerry handsets. However, there were still a few surprises in store, including a change of name for the company.
Thorsten Heins, the RIM CEO, took to the stage in New York, in a simulcast to the other locations to introduce the new software: "Today is not the finish line, it's the starting line," said Heins. "Today we present a new day in the history of BlackBerry."
In a surprise move, Heins announced that the company will simply be known as BlackBerry and no longer Research in Motion, or RIM, as the BB manufacturer was previously known.
Leading the charge is the new BlackBerry Z10, a full touch device, signalling a new direction for interaction with your BlackBerry after the slightly awkward Storm and Torch devices of the past, or the hybrid touch and type offered by the most recent Bold, for example. "It just feels good in your hand," said Heins.
RIM is looking to return to favour, as its devices have slipped from business darling to teenage messenger, losing ground in the high-end devices to the likes of Apple's iPhone and Google's Android OS.
The BlackBerry Z10 will be followed by a more traditional format of device, featuring a Qwerty keyboard that many BlackBerry owners will be familiar with. Named the BlackBerry Q10, it was named by Heins as "the absolute best typing experience in the industry, period."
The highlights of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system include BlackBerry Peek, letting you quickly and easily see what is happening on your device with a simple swipe.
BB10 has been designed around gestures, breaking out of the need to open apps, or continually press a home button to move around the device.
Comparing BB10 to other devices Heins said "the device adapts to you" so you don't need to dive in and out of apps to find information, for example, when looking up a contact.
The keyboard on the BlackBerry Z10 incorporates lots of clever features, including predictions and smart correction, so, boasted Heins, BlackBerry has not only the best physical keyboard on the BlackBerry Q10, but also the next virtual keyboard in the BlackBerry Z10 (SwiftKey users on Android might disagree).
Shifting to BBM, BlackBerry 10 adds video into the popular messaging platform, with the New York presentation making the first public call to the team in London. In addition, there's a Screen Share feature that will let you share the screen of the person you are calling, so you can share pictures, for example, from someone else's device.
The camera brings a Time Shift feature, so once you've snapped a picture, you can zoom in on faces and scroll back, so if someone blinks, you can move back a second to open their eyes again. There's also a built-in editor, so you can transform images easily within the device.
"This is the new BlackBerry," said Heins, looking rather sombre, in summing up the announcement.
New BlackBerry 10 hardware will be available tomorrow, 31 January 2013.
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