With the BlackBerry Dev Alpha A and B devices in the hands of developers, RIM has already taken the wraps off a few of the features of the upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system. The time warp camera, and the innovative keyboard are among the few consumer features demoed months in advance. N4BB has been given a hands-on demo of the latest internal build, BlackBerry OS 10.0.9.903 reveals quite a few new additions to the OS. The jump in build numbers is significant jump, as the build on the current developer devices is 10.0.9.388.
Although much of the user interface is the same, icons such as Voice Control (which is currently disabled on developer devices), file manager, and Print-to-Go are new additions to the build. On the enterprise side, Adobe Reader, Remember (the new native “memo pad”), and the Video player icons can be clearly seen. From my experience, the PDF reader is much improved from the Playbook version. The Print-to-Go app runs smoother and seems more fully featured on BlackBerry 10 than it does on the PlayBook.
The File Manager app is overhauled as well from the “mickey mouse” file manger of the PlayBook OS. In this build, you can view many different types of files and view all the folders, all organized within neat folders.
The BlackBerry Hub is the center of communications, and is fully working on this build. IT is also a great way to check your daily calendar and any information about your contacts. Twitter, Linkedin and many other forms of communications all come into one place. If you do not have the Twitter or LinkedIn addresses of a contact, you can directly send a request all from inside the Hub. In this demo, the compose email screen is seen below.
The compass app is something special. The gyroscope inside the device is used to position the compass such that it is always facing upwards. There is no lag at all when tilting the device as the compass is rendered beautifully on the Dev Alpha B’s beautiful screen.
The latency of the keyboard has been reduced, creating a top-notch typing experience. The autocorrect is intelligent, the word prediction is exactly what you hoped it would be, and the one-handed swiping of words is truly innovative. Typing on the Dev Alpha B running BlackBerry 10 is a joy when compared to the touchscreen typing experiences of current BlackBerrys.
The native BlackBerry 10 Clock application has been demoed before, sporting a quite sophisticated look. The Stopwatch and Timer modes can be used as well. The stopwatch has been very well designed, with a similar clock to count the seconds, with an inset smaller clock to count the minutes as in traditional stopwatches.
Switching the device into bedside mode transforms the clock into a darker-themed clock. The wake-up/alarm function is something to marvel though. The device slowly begins to light up, as if mimicking a sunrise. The music slowly begins to fade in, synchronously with the increasing brightness of the clock. The implementation is elegant and effective, a running theme in the new BlackBerry 10 OS.
The new build, which may or may not contain some of the consumer apps shown here, should be released to developers with Dev Alpha devices soon. The progress and refinement made on BlackBerry is very encouraging. The performance, quality and features of the operating system so far is demonstrating that RIM is taking software development seriously and looks to come out swinging with the BlackBerry 10 L-Series in 2013.