Research In Motion has announced that Blackberry 10 will make it’s debut in New York on January 30, 2013. Blackberry 10, like Windows Phone 8, refers to a variety of different devices running its platform, and not just a single device. RIM, maker of Blackberry phones, initially plans to release two versions, one including a physical keyboard and touch screen , the other having just a touch screen. These new devices are expected to compete with other high end phones like iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone devices. RIM plans to make the Blackberry 10 touch screen based version available in late February to early March. Trailing that by a week or two, the keyboard equipped device will also become available.
When the Blackberry 10 platform launches, users will have access to around 70,000 applications. This is only a small fraction of the number of apps that the most popular phone platforms currently offer. RIM’s plan is to start off with quantity over quality, by starting off with the most popular apps worldwide and using that as a strong jumping off point.
Although Blackberry 10 plans to directly compete with Android, iPhone, etc., things don’t stop there. RIM is attempting to create something more intuitive and easy to use than anything that has been released thus far. One of the features unique to Blackberry 10 is the ability to “peek”. This allows the user to access the Blackberry Hub while still in an app simply by swiping up and to the right. The Blackberry Hub will be a way for users to access all of their conversations and messages across all social networking platforms in one place. Think of it as a more fleshed out version of Android‘s notification center. This is a new type of multi-tasking that no other phone platform has provided to date.
During a demonstration given by Jeff Gadway, senior manager of BlackBerry Product Marketing, some new keyboard features were unveiled. For on-screen keyboard users, there may be a new cure for fat finger syndrome. Those of us who have large thumbs sometimes can find ourselves accidentally pressing the wrong key while typing. A new feature in Blackberry 10 is called heat mapping. It seeks to correct the common mistakes that users make by tailoring where the heat targets are for each user. This sounds good on paper, but we’ll have to see how well it works in practice. Another keyboard technology designed by Blackberry is predictive text on the keyboard. Predictive text is nothing new.
The part of this that is new, however, is the placement of the predictions. Instead of being placed at the top of the keyboard, or next to the word that is being typed, word predictions are placed on the actual letter keys. The key on which the predictions are placed is also decided by the software. In order to choose the word, the user will just swipe up slightly, and it will be added to the sentence.
Blackberry 10 devices are currently being tested by 150 different telephone carriers around the globe. Expect a lot more information to be detailed on January 30th at the launch event.