RIM’s BlackBerry Jam event today in San Jose was one of the most anticipated of the year for the Waterloo faithful. Thorsten Heins went on stage and immediately thanked the millions of devoted BlackBerry users for their loyalty, patience and understanding through this difficult rebuilding and transitional period.
And after many minutes of talking about how great BlackBerry 10 is going to be, and how it is still on schedule for an early 2013 release, he stopped talking and started demoing. He showed off Peek, a way for users to always check notifications from within an active app; gestures are an important part of the BlackBerry 10 experience, and they extend far beyond what is currently capable inside the PlayBook tablet.
Though a retail device wasn’t announced, RIM showed off an updated version of its Dev Alpha device, called Dev Alpha B, which looks a bit more streamlined and resembles a finished product more so than the first version. RIM showed off a native Facebook app, and promised Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare, along with Facebook, would be ready at launch.
The home screen consists of a maximum of eight “tiles” or active applications, though due to the multitasking-friendly makeup of BB10’s QNX framework, more than eight applications can be saved into memory. Scrolling to the right reveals a list of boxy app icons, many of which will be brand new to BB10.
RIM is bringing music, movie and TV show purchases to the BlackBerry App World, an addition that will hopefully put it on par with Apple and Google in terms of media availability. The company also noted that there are 105,000 apps in App World, available to over 80 million BlackBerry subscribers, a new number that shows growth has not in fact peaked (something that was posited last week). Developers looking to submit apps for use on upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices will have the chance on October 10th, so testing will begin shortly.
RIM showed off the new BBM app, which is said to support video chat features as well as traditional text-based interactions. A new bevy of emoticons has been added to the predictive keyboard, which is said to be even better than the last time we saw it. In other words, RIM is maintaining that it has the best smartphone keyboard available on the market, regardless of whether it is in hardware or virtual form. Quite a boast, and we can’t wait to try it out to test that theory.
For IT administrators and developers, BlackBerry Peek will be open as an API and will be fully-compatible with the company’s Enterprise Service. That means that developers can create custom notifications to be integrated into Peek (which is always accessible via a small gesture from the bottom left corner of the device), and IT admins can adjust the apps that can be used on any given BB10 device. While BlackBerry 10 is certainly being aimed at consumers, RIM has not forgotten how it rose in the first place, and is giving enterprise users big incentives to stay loyal to the BlackBerry brand. Then there’s BlackBerry Balance, which allows you to sandbox your work and personal data, ensuring that you’re on the ball at work and having a ball at home, from the same device.
Speaking of loyalty, Alec Saunders, RIM’s VP of Developer Relations, said that all BB10 apps must be submitted by January 21st, 2013, to be eligible for a “limited edition” BB10 device. There are only 10,000 of these special full-touch BlackBerries being made, and all developers who submit an app and earn more than $1,000 will be bumped up to $10,000 in their first year.
The BB10 Dev Alpha B device looks like a cross between a larger Nokia Lumia 800 and a BlackBerry Bold 9860. While we don’t know exactly what’s going on inside the phone, we’ve confirmed that the first BB10 device will sport a 1280×768 display, while the QWERTY device will have a smaller 720×720 pixel screen.
As already seen, communication apps such as email and SMS will be integrated into a unified inbox with private Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn messages, and that information is aways available via the Peek gesture.
So, that’s it! What do you think of BlackBerry 10 so far? Is it shaping up to be what you want and more?
Hit up the source link to get a detailed demo of BlackBerry 10 running on Dev Alpha B. It looks pretty fantastic!