It’s almost here and the anticipation has people wondering if the 2 horse race between Apple and Android might just get a legitimate 3rd contender. BlackBerry 10 will be officially unveiled this week. The buzz is building, the early returns are promising, and the $RIM stock is up 72% over the past month, and an incredible 136% over the past 3 months. It is all adding up to good things for RIM.
Part of this rise in confidence has to do with how RIM has handled the launch. The official unveiling will be later this week, but over the past 2-3 months, there has been a long road show with RIM showing off the platform to developers and journalists. The reviews have been positive, and while many would have liked to have seen this sort of OS from RIM 18 months ago, the news cycle of anticipation has been building since the fall.
So what can you expect in BB10? Here are the key points that everyone is fawning over:
HUB and PEEK and FLOW
On the software side, there are 3 main components to the new BB10: hub, peek, and flow.
BlackBerry Hub will replace your message folder. It will be an all-in-one spot for notifications, bbm, tweets, email, and communications.
BlackBerry Peek is a nifty swipe up to see your notifications, while a side swipe will bring in your email box without leaving the app. Think of it as toggling between windows on your desktop. On other devices you have to leave the app to get out and see something else, BlackBerry Peek lets you multitask easily.
BlackBerry Flow takes peek to the next level with multitaksing. You can flow between apps without popping them open or closing them. It’s a much more fluid experience that really lets you operate one handed to go between all sorts of different applications and tasks on your device.
There are two types of smartphone users: touch screen fans, and physical keyboard fans. The physical keyboard takes up a lot of real estate that could be devoted to the screen, or makes the device too thick, so RIM is releasing a touch screen only version first to try and get people to switch. The keyboard in BB10 looks very much like the physical keyboard from older BB models. It has frets, the keys are large, and apart from not having physical keys, it looks just like the keyboard you’re used to.
There is also a funky predictive text that has words floating above the keys as you type. Just flick a letter and the word will appear. It works in both languages, and will even learn words that you like. Say you type Hey with H more often than Hi, BB10 will recognize that and suggest it.
Over the past number of years it has been said the iPhone is what people bought for themselves, a BlackBerry is what they got from work. Blackberry has been coveted by business because of the backend security that IT departments could control. BlackBerry 10 now has an enterprise solution that will work on both Android and iOS devices. A company can have that secure email network, and profile running on a variety of devices. You basically end up with 2 profiles, one for personal, one for work. You can’t copy files between the two, and IT can control the back end. So now, if employees want to have an iPhone or Android, it doesn’t matter – Blackberry can still help provide the corporate software.
Is all this enough? We’ll find out on Wednesday when the official announcement of BB10 and the new hardware will be made.
APP OF THE WEEK: Data-Man [99c]
A very personalized app that will help you manage your data usage on your smartphone. You tell it your billing cycle, and then it will easily, quickly, and instantly track your data consumption on WiFi and via mobile towers.
Compared to the built in app that needs to be reset when you want to measure it, or unreliable data meters from mobile providers, this is the most reliable, and fastest app I’ve seen to keep track of your data and know when you might be facing overage charges.