- Editor's Rating
- Great swipe-based navigation
- BlackBerry Hub is the perfect communication feature
- Screen sharing over BBM
- Limited app selection at launch
- Still a bit buggy
- Browser a bit slow
Quick TakeBlackBerry 10 is a fine mobile operating system and portends good things for the company formerly known as RIM.
After numerous delays, BlackBerry, or the company formerly known as RIM, finally completed the next iteration of its mobile operating system, BlackBerry 10 OS. Though it has already launched in some international markets, it will not be available to US customers until March when the first BB10 handset, the BlackBerry Z10, is released. The next expected BB10 smartphone is the Q10, which sports a physical keyboard in addition to a touch screen and will be available in the spring or early summer of 2013.
BB10 takes on a familiar appearance in terms of its app layout: the home screen consists of the first of series of pages that are filled with a four by four grid of apps. From here, users can use swipes to navigate to the right, which is where subsequent pages of apps are located, or swipe down from the top of the display to pull down a quick menu that features a handful of setup options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, orientation lock, etc. Users can also swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see if they have any notifications, but they’re likely to know that already due to a red LED located just above the screen that blinks whenever there are pending notifications. Finally, users can also go to the left of the first page of apps, which is where the BlackBerry Hub is located.
The BlackBerry Hub is one of the most appealing aspects of BB10 – not to mention one of its more defining characteristics – and its genius is mostly due to its simplicity. The Hub aggregates all form of communication into a single inbox, and it’s not just limited to text messages, call logs, BBMs, or emails; the Hub also pulls in communications from any apps that you log into and connect to hub, including social media services like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Messages can also be composed from the Hub, so it’s not just for reading messages, but for sending them as well.
For those who frown upon the idea of having everything in a single inbox, there’s a twist: swipe once more over to the left while in the hub and a list of all connected services is pulled up. Simply tap one of them and the Hub will filter out and display messages only from that particular outlet.
The fordable BlackBerry Messenger has also been refined, complete with a focus on video chat. However, the kicker is that users can now screen share over BBM, making it ideal for presentations and collaboration.
One other key defining feature of BB10 is the ability to minimize apps. Once apps are minimized, they are shrunken down to a small preview image of the window and stored on their own page between the Hub and the first page of apps. From there, they can either then be closed by tapping an uncomfortably small “X” located beneath the preview image, or immediately resumed by tapping on any other part of it.
Efficiency is the name of the game with BB10, and between the swift gesture-based navigation – no navigational buttons here, capacitive or otherwise – and features like the Hub and the ability to minimize windows to help with multitasking, BlackBerry achieved what it set out to do. Smaller tweaks here and there, like a faster browser, certainly help as well, but it’s really the intuitive design of the OS that’s the main attraction.
The only issue is that it’s still a young platform, so app selection is still limited, as is the “ecosystem,” and that could prevent potentially new users from jumping ship from their current OS of choice. If it gains traction, though, BB10 may end up being a successful jumpstart for an ailing company.