South Africa will be among the countries to host launch events for BlackBerry 10, and Cell C has already confirmed that it will offer devices running the new operating system (OS).
As expected, the slippage in quarterly shipments resulted in the loss of profitability and eventually jobs, with RIM reportedly laying off between 4,000 and 9,000 employees during 2011 and 2012.
BlackBerry 10, RIM’s new smartphone operating system, was meant to be the saving grace of the company, but has seen numerous delays over the last few years.
Whether the new platform and the devices that go with it will staunch (and hopefully reverse) the bleeding of BlackBerry’s market share remains to be seen, but there are some interesting features in the new BB10 worth taking a look at.
BlackBerry 10’s features
Features typically associated with BlackBerry, such as the unified inbox, make a return on the new BlackBerry 10 OS, along with some of the gesture controls RIM included in its Playbook tablet PC.
It’s worth noting that the BlackBerry Tablet OS and BlackBerry 10 are both built on QNX: the operating system of QNX Software Systems that RIM acquired in 2010.
These are some of the key features you can expect from BlackBerry 10.
- BlackBerry Hub: existing users will recognise this as a redesigned “Unified Inbox”. All your notifications go here.
- BlackBerry Flow: layer open emails, attachments, or other apps over the BlackBerry Hub and “peek” back at information you need by dragging them around on the touch screen.
- Gesture keyboard: combines some of the best attributes of keyboards available on Android, such as next word prediction (SwiftKey) and gesture-based input. Word predictions over letters as you type and you can just swipe up to select a word.
- Active Frames: minimise apps to a special home screen (up to a maximum of 8) where they function similarly to Windows Phone 8’s “Live Apps”.
- Time Shift Camera: BB10’s camera app takes images a few seconds before and a few seconds after the actual photo. You can then select exactly the right moment to capture. Face recognition lets you change individual faces by rolling forward or back using an on-screen dial.
- BlackBerry Balance: separate your “work” and “personal” life to the degree that an IT admin can request a wipe of your work data while leaving your personal data intact.
- Contacts with social context: contact management in BB10 is set to include a feature that automatically pulls information from a contact’s social profiles such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and personal blog.
Changes to BIS likely
While there’s much to be excited about in BlackBerry 10, one point of concern for South African users is that the uncapped BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) they had become used to may not be available on the new devices.
Some aspects of the “BlackBerry experience” such as BlackBerry Messenger may yet be flat-rated and bundled into BlackBerry data bundles, however.
The R59/month uncapped data package unique to BlackBerry in South Africa has been a major draw-card for the brand, and it remains to be seen how it will fare without BIS-as-we-know-it.