Today in London, RIM gave a sneak peek of BlackBerry 10. Before this special media event, the world had seen very little of Waterloo’s next attempt at mobile telephony, save for the brief glimpses that the company showed off at BlackBerry Jam this year. But today, we learned a good bit about RIM’s philosophy on how the user will interact with its phones once BlackBerry 10 heads out to market this fall.
Namely, the company is emphasizing gestures and swipes instead of the constant tapping that most touch-centric operating systems are based on. According to RIM Head of Software Portfolio Vivek Bhardwaj, this is to allow users to access what they need with one hand. Obviously tapping will be involved – like to get to an app from the main home screen – but once inside the app, gestures are the main way to interact with whatever’s on the screen.
While we’re on the topic of the home screen, let me explain how it’s set up: when you turn on or unlock the phone, you’ll see four large “panes.” Each pane is a running and live app, so when something updates in that app, the pane will update with it. If you don’t want to use one of those four running apps, you’ll just need to swipe right; this motion brings you to a full list of all of your installed apps. If you swipe to the left, your unified inbox pops up. This unified inbox doesn’t just contain your emails, but also your IMs, calls, Facebook messages, and tweets.
The keyboard also got a little camera time. Bhardwaj made it clear that RIM has been working diligently on bringing a physical keyboard-like experience to the software keyboard. BB10’s soft keyboard will look and feel very similar to a traditional hard one: specifically, RIM has spaced out the software keys to be identical to its hardware keys.
RIM’s also spent a lot of time on making the keyboard smart. It’s added a “scanner” of sorts that will look through your IMs, tweets, and emails to learn the types of words that you use. It can learn the common placement of your fingers on the screen, too, so that if you repeatedly strike the corner of a key, the keyboard will adjust itself so it can recognize the letter you’re trying to type.
Lastly, the company showed off its camera app. It will include the ability to take pictures while you record video, something we’ve already seen in our beloved HTC One phones.
I feel that these new features are simply there to make navigating the phone easier so users can get their work done. After all, these are tools, not toys. What do you think of them?[CNET UK]