Last week Research in Motion renamed itself BlackBerry and launched a radical new operating system—BlackBerry 10 OS. They also unveiled two handsets, both running the new OS. One has a physical keyboard (the BlackBerry Q10) and the other is entirely touchscreen (the BlackBerry Z10.) Though both models are reminiscent of past BlackBerrys, the new software makes interacting with these devices radically different. After cruising through the news and analysis, below are four features that pundits think will make the new OS standout.
1. New Kernel
Though the BlackBerry 10 looks cosmetically different, it’s not just lipstick. The software has been retooled all the way down to the kernel (first layer of software that talks to the hardware). The new kernel is called “QNX” and was developed outside of BlackBerry and purchased in 2010. The company claims that QNX excels in security and stability, as well as being ideal for multicore processors. Anantech did a deep dive into this new kernel:
“QNX features a very small (by modern standards) microkernel of around 100K lines of code. By comparison, the modern-day Linux kernel is around 14M lines of code. QNX argues that by limiting the scope of the kernel it can ensure greater stability and less vulnerability to bugs in the code.”
2. New UI
The way you interact with this new OS is completely different from its predecessors and competitors. Whereas popular mobile OSs—such as iOS, Android and Windows Phone—all require at least one physical button to return to the home screen, BlackBerry 10 has none. And swiping in from the corners of the screen will move you through the OS. Here’s a preview of how to use these swiping gestures.
3. Android Apps
BlackBerry 10 handsets will be able to run Android apps that are optimized for the new OS. Currently there are about 28,000 such apps in BlackBerry’s app store. PC Mag spoke with BlackBerry UX Designer Don Lindsay to explain the process:
“Application developers must use the BlackBerry 10 SDK to ‘wrap’ their Android code up in a BlackBerry-friendly form. The SDK translates Android idioms into BlackBerry world: For instance, it maps the Android ‘menu’ button to an up-swipe gesture, and the android ‘back’ button to a back-swipe gesture.”
The keyboard on the original BlackBerry’s were iconic to say the least. Developing arthritis from typing on smartphones was commonly referred to as “BlackBerry Thumb.”
The new BlackBerry Q10 aims to rekindle that love by featuring the traditional physical keyboard. The Z10 is an entirely touch screen device, but it too tries to woo keyboard fans. For starters, the touchscreen keyboard tries to look aesthetically identical to their physical keyboard—the frets, the size of the keys, etc.