January 30, 2013

BlackBerry 10: It’s Officially Official

It’s been a long time coming, and today, the Hail Mary pass that is BlackBerry 10 has finally been shown off in a press event.

RIM, who started the event by announcing that they changed the name of their company to “BlackBerry,” showed off their new operating system on two new BlackBerry phones, the Q10 and the Z10.

The Z10 is a 4.2-inch touchscreen phone that eschews the iconic Blackberry keyboard. The company hasn’t completely thrown away the keyboard, however. The Q10 marries the new BB10 with the famously good QWERTY-style keyboard.

The BlackBerry Z10 will be available in the U.S. in March, and on February 5th in Canada. The Q10, which features a smaller touch screen as well as the physical keyboard, will be available in April.

BlackBerry has partnered with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon in the U.S., and these carriers should announce full availability and pricing later today. One carrier, Verizon, has already announced that they’ll be offering the Z10 for $199 on a 2-year contract.

The main player of today’s announcement was the BlackBerry 10 (BB 10) operating system, which aims to bring more fluid and effortless navigation to the “traditional” touch-screen operating system.

For instance, BB 10 offers a feature called “BlackBerry Peek,” which allows users to take a quick look at their email and other messages without having to jump from app to app. Taking pictures with a BB 10 phone is also a “fluid” process. Simply tap anywhere on the screen with the Z10 to snap a picture. Users can also adjust the focus of the camera by dragging their finger to any point on the screen.

BB 10 also includes a built in photo editor. This gives users the chance to edit and even add filters to a freshly taken snapshot without having to jump into another app. The BlackBerry 10 camera also adds a feature called TimeShift, which captures a few seconds of time, allowing phone photographers to choose a specific moment in time to capture just the right moment. Nokia and Samsung also offer a similar feature.

These days, an operating system is only as powerful as its app store. BlackBerry has been working hard to beef up their app offerings and today have announced that they now have 70,000 apps available in BlackBerry World, with another 1,000 of the “world’s top apps” committed to BB 10. Apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Kindle and even Angry Birds are available now in BlackBerry World. Disney, EA, Gameloft and Sega have all said they’ll bring their apps to BB 10 as well, according to Martyn Mallick, VP of global alliances and business development.

In an apparent effort to show off just how “hip” and “relevant” they are, CEO Thorsten Heins also announced a new job title at BlackBerry. Filling the role of Global Creative Director is Grammy winner and R&B superstar Alicia Keys. Though it’s not entirely clear what she will be doing for the company, (or if she’ll keep an office in Waterloo) Keys has said she’ll be working with other creative types to highlight all the different ways Blackberry merges together the private and professional lives of BlackBerry users.

Heins blamed the fact that carriers in other parts of the world will be getting the new BlackBerry before the U.S. on a longer testing period used by American carriers.

“They do the best they can,” said Heins during today’s press event in New York.

“Would I have loved to see it earlier? Absolutely. Make no mistake everyone’s trying to pull the date in.”

Image Credit: RIM / Blackberry

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