The first BlackBerry 10 devices are not due until next year, but Research in Motion (RIM) has been showing off the latest build of the operating system, said to be close to the final release code, and V3 was on hand to take a look.
The handset itself is a Dev Alpha B device, which is different from the earlier Dev Alpha model RIM gave to developers at its BlackBerry World conference, but still not representative of the upcoming next-gen BlackBerry handsets, according to RIM.
The lock screen (above) shows a number of status indicators, such as new emails or BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) updates, as well as upcoming calendar alerts.
To unlock the handset, the user swipes up from the bottom of the screen, which gradually reveals the underlying home screen (below).
The BlackBerry 10 main display is based around Active Frames (below), which basically seem to be thumbnails of open applications, showing details such as the weather, a regularly visited web page, or BBM messages.
A key part of the BlackBerry 10 user experience is the Hub. This is a unified inbox showing all content from email, BBM, text messages and social networks, in one place that can be reached with a simple pull-aside "peek" gesture (see below) from anywhere.
The Calendar (below left) is another key app, which is colour coded depending on whether an entry is private or work-related.
From meeting entries, the user can pull up information on other people who have been invited to attend (below right), drawn from sources such as LinkedIn.
The BlackBerry 10 soft keyboard (below) has been demonstrated by RIM before, but now looks much slicker. It still has the predictive text, with word predictions appearing on the keyboard as you type, allowing you to flick the correct one up to join the rest of the text.
Also looking slicker is BlackBerry App World (below), RIM's built-in application for browsing and downloading software from its online store.
One neat feature of BlackBerry 10 OS is that it is partitioned into separate work and personal environments, with the work environment (below left) controlled and provisioned with applications by the user's IT department.
Users can switch between the two by a downward swipe gesture on the icon grid, which brings up two buttons to press (below right).
Our impression of BlackBerry 10 OS from this brief demo is that it looks good and feels very responsive, and we can't wait to see the finished product running on whatever hardware RIM has in the pipeline.
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