Today at BlackBerry World, RIM’s CEO Thorsten Heins announced that the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device will be made available to all attendees who signed up for the BB10 Jam sessions. The device is running a modified build of the PlayBook OS, with working cellar radios and sensors. The device has a 4.2-inch 1280×768 pixel screen, but for all intents and purposes is a shrunken PlayBook.
On stage and throughout the week, RIM is demoing the BlackBerry 10 OS with its new Cascades UI. Developers can create apps with many existing programming languages including C++, Java and HTML5.
The build seemed smooth and showcased many of the interesting gesture-based movements one can make throughout the OS. The QNX-based operating system is much like its PlayBook predecessor in that it will largely rely on edge-in gestures to display latent or hidden notifications, toolbars and menus. Heins and his team showed off the ease at which one can check for new notifications, or switch between applications.
A large part of the demonstration was spent on what users have most been wondering about the touchscreen-only device: the keyboard. While BlackBerry’s hardware keyboards have always been the best in the game, its virtual varieties on devices like the Torch 9860, leave a lot to be desired. BlackBerry 10 integrates much of what made the keyboard so great in PlayBook OS 2.0, and expands on it. Intelligent algorithm-based learning aims to cater each keyboard to the individual, with the ability to complete words and sentences quickly with one hand.
Another element of the OS that was shown off was the real-time photo “rollback” adjustment, courtesy of a burst-mode cache that captures several frames before and after the actual shutter is taken. This helps in scenes where someone has blinked or turned away, allowing you to correct the person’s position.
Developers are extremely excited about BlackBerry 10, as you’d expect. Well-known companies such as Endomondo, Gameloft and Poynt have signed on, and several game developers have committed porting over their popular titles to the BB10 platform. One such developer, Adam Linford of Truphone Head of Labs and Mobile Applications says, “RIM has got it right with the BlackBerry 10 platform. They have really streamlined the app-development process. The platform’s support for open-source components flattens the learning curve enabling us to build a new application quickly and cost-effectively and have it ready to go when the first BlackBerry 10 devices debut.”
So what do you think? Is it going to be worth the wait when it comes later this year?