BlackBerry launched their new and highly-anticipated operating system last night, with a number of events throughout the world. Johannesburg, Toronto and Paris simultaneously launched the new operating system and devices in their respective countries.
The event also had a few surprises in store and CEO Thorsten Heins announced that Research in Motion will be rebranded as BlackBerry, and that singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has been appointed as BlackBerry’s Global Creative Director.
While the highlight of the evening centred around the new features and functionalities of BlackBerry 10, two new devices were also unveiled – the Q10 and Z10.
The Q10 features a full, physical keyboard, while the Z10 has a touch screen only.
The new OS also makes use of BlackBerry Flow, which makes it easier for users to cycle through available apps, and the BlackBerry Hub has been given a facelift that now adds the ability to “peek” into the BlackBerry Hub from anywhere.
BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) has become synonymous with BlackBerry, and the company naturally added extra features to BB10.
It will be the first time in BlackBerry’s history that BBM includes voice calling and video chat, while users will be able to share a screen through the Screen Share functionality.
As a prerequisite for any smartphone on the market, the new BB10 phones include an impressive camera. According to BlackBerry, “Time Shift is an astonishing camera feature that lets you capture a group shot where everyone is smiling with their eyes wide open. Story Maker, which lets you bring a collection of photos and videos together, along with music and effects, is added to the phone to produce an HD movie that you can instantly share.”
Naturally, apps also play a huge part in a smartphone’s life cycles, and BlackBerry has no shortage of them – in fact, BB10 will launch with 70 000 available apps. Some of these apps include the likes of Angry Birds, News24, Foursquare, WhatsApp and Skype.
“We are excited about our plans to bring Skype to smartphones running the brand new BlackBerry 10 platform,” said Bob Rosin, VP & GM of Business Development for Microsoft’s Skype division. “We are working closely with BlackBerry to ensure Skype runs great on BlackBerry 10 devices. This will give BlackBerry 10 users a great Skype experience, including free voice and video calling, sending instant messages and text messages, sharing photos, videos and files, and calling to landlines and mobiles at Skype’s low rates.”
Models of the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 will be available from carriers to support their respective 4G LTE or HSPA+ networks, and all the available models include connectivity support for global roaming. The BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones will also each come in White and Black.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor