BlackBerry 10 Mobile OS Launched With Two New Smartphones

  • BlackBerry Hub
  • BBM video chat
  • BlackBerry Balance

BlackBerry 10 was launched today with two new handsets running the new mobile operating system.

  • BlackBerry Hub
  • BBM video chat
  • BlackBerry Balance

BlackBerry 10 was launched today with two new handsets running the new mobile operating system.

The new operating system brings the BlackBerry platform a much-needed update, helping propel it to the same ranks as Apple's iOS, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone 8. But after falling behind for a couple of years, the big question is whether the company can catch up.

"Today represents a new day in the history of BlackBerry," said Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry, in front of an audience of journalists and analysts in New York. The company used the event to reveal its name change from RIM.

"Our customers use the BlackBerry, our employees work for BlackBerry, and our shareholders are owners of BlackBerry. From today on, we are BlackBerry everywhere in the world,” he said. "Two years ago, we had to make a very serious decision: adopt somebody else's platform or build a whole new one."

"And we made the tough call to go it alone."

BlackBerry based the new operating system on QNX, a real-time OS that it acquired in 2010. At the heart of the new platform is the BlackBerry Hub, a message centre that brings together email, Twitter and Facebook messages, BlackBerry messaging, and just about any other means of communication. The hub is accessible from anywhere within the phone with a rightward swipe of a finger.

It goes beyond a notification centre or icons by providing direct access to incoming messages without launching external applications. And users can also respond to messages from within the hub. It's intended as a time-saver and serves as proof that RIM continues to see fast and efficient messaging as a key concern of its target users.

BlackBerry's core messaging platform, BBM, is also getting an upgrade with the addition of video chat. The same system also makes screen sharing possible, in which one BlackBerry user can share their screen with another user via a BBM session.

Moreover, there's BlackBerry Balance. It divides the phone into personal and work sides, with a company able to set policies and maintain security on the work side of the phone, but allowing the user freedom on the personal side. A virtual firewall between the two sides means confidential corporate data can't be copied or shared to the personal side.

There are also around 70,000 applications – what BlackBerry says is the largest launch lineup of any smartphone platform. The number is largely thanks to incentives offered to application developers to port their software to the BlackBerry 10.

Two New Handsets

The launch handset lineup will consist of two phones: the BlackBerry Z10 and the Q10. The Z10 is a touchscreen handset and the Q10 features the familiar BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard.

On the Z10, users will type on a virtual keyboard that features an innovative interface. The Z10 will launch first in the UK, where it will go on sale tomorrow through EE, O2, Vodafone and other carriers. It will launch on February 5 in Canada and in March in the US through AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

In Australia, local availability and pricing is yet to be announced however Optus and Telstra have confirmed that they intend to range the BlackBerry Z10 in Australia.

Many countries won't see the phones quite so soon. BlackBerry said it plans to complete testing with 110 carriers around the world in February ahead of local launches.

Although it was announced alongside the flagship, fully touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 the Q10 won't go on sale at the same time. The BlackBerry Q10 is the second handset to come running the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, but it's the first to offer a physical QWERTY keyboard alongside.

Currently there's no firm BlackBerry Q10 release date or price, and even the specs are being kept under wraps for now as the handset isn't completely finalised.

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