So today was the day many BlackBerry diehards have been waiting for, BlackBerry World and the reveal of BlackBerry OS 10 (BB10). RIM CEO Thorsten Heins took the stage this morning in what has so far, been called a dud of an event. While some of the features of the upcoming BB10 look fantastic, the overall package doesn’t seem to offer any valuable “must-have” features that customers can’t already get on other devices.
But let’s break it down.
The overall user interface (UI), as you can see from the image above, consists of four live widgets, panels or tiles or whatever you choose to call them. Personally speaking, it doesn’t look very appealing or polished, in fact, it looks like the least used panel on my Android handset. You know the one that’s filed with useless widgets that barely get used. Anyway, while it’s nice that users can get information quick and easy, the design of these “tiles” are rather boring. The main page lacks the design and style that Microsoft nailed with its Metro U. RIM obviously tried something different, which I applaud them for, but I doubt this look will fly with the majority of consumers.
RIM without a doubt, makes a great physical keyboard and it looks like they’ve made another great one, one that’s actually on-screen.(*note* if you’re a fan of the BB keyboard, don’t worry, RIM has said that BB10 device with physical keyboards are coming.) Forget the mistake that was the BB Storm, RIM has gone back to the drawing board and created a new on-screen keyboard that resembles their physical keyboard found on devices like the BlackBerry Bold, but they’ve also added a very cool predictive text system, when you’re typing, a predicted word will pop up above the last letter you’ve hit, simply flick it up and it will show up in the text box above the keyboard. It’s certainly unique, but until it’s tested in the real world, we’ll hold our judgement (I can already see myself typing to fast and accidentally hitting a word or two by mistake).
The last big thing we’ll talk about is the camera, RIM’s basically taken a 3rd party camera app and turned it into their own BB10 camera software. Now when you take a picture, the phone records a few seconds before and after, like a sponge, it sort of absorbs whatever’s going on in the view finder. After you snap a shot, you’ll be able to rewind or fast forward the photo to find the perfect shot. It’s very cool, but does come at a price, from what we’ve seen, due to the technology behind this feature, there’s no auto focus on the lens. So it’s going to be trade off, will it be one that customers will sacrifice? I guess we’ll find out later this year.
While the camera’s kind of cool, but it’s sort of “Wii” cool, as in, it could end up being a gimmick and some people would rather have their auto-focus back. As for the keyboard, again, it’s cool, but it could cause problems for fast typers and it’s not something that Apple or Google couldn’t replicate for their upcoming updates. In the end, we’re left with an underwhelming home interface and nothing much else to show. RIM failed to impress, a camera and keyboard won’t force someone to buy a phone, they are two things that already exist, only slightly modified. RIM needs to come to the fight with more than a pocket knife, when Apple updated their iPhone they brought Siri and it changed the way people interacted with their phones. When Android updated to 4.0, they brought face detection, NFC beaming technology and a user interface that was beautiful and easy on the eyes, not to mention their camera had zero shutter lag and could do panoramic shots too. Most of you know me, I’m not the biggest RIM supporter, but believe me, I’m not trying to throw them under the bus. I’ll say it again, I applaud them for trying something new, but after seeing what they’ve presented today, I see nothing that would make people who love their iPhone’s or Android devices, kick them to the curb for a BlackBerry and BB10.
Sadly, I get the feeling that the RIM we know right now, will cease to exist this time next year. Prove me wrong Waterloo, prove me wrong.