ORLANDO: Research in Motion (RIM) used its BlackBerry World conference in Florida to show off the features of its upcoming BlackBerry 10 software while encouraging developers to get behind the platform and start building up an ecosystem ready for its availability.
BlackBerry 10, which is set to unite RIM's BlackBerry smartphone and PlayBook tablets with a single platform, is still set to be publicly available on new handsets in the second half of this year, according to the firm.
However, RIM chief executive Thorsen Heins showed off a BlackBerry 10 Developer Alpha smartphone during his keynote speech, which developers at the conference are apparently being given to take away with them to aid with app development.
This device, which does not represent final hardware, is a touchscreen model with a passing resemblance to a scaled-down PlayBook tablet.
Vivek Bhardwaj, head of software portfolio at RIM, demonstrated how BlackBerry 10 will provide better multi-tasking, enabling users to flow or glide between applications, but easily refer back to where they have been if they need to, such as sliding an email message aside with a gesture to reveal the main inbox behind it.
"Floating through means that everything you have going on continues in the background. No other mobile platform can do this. It means that information just flows with you," Heins commented.
Bhardwaj also showed how typing on a touchscreen is being improved on BlackBerry 10, an important consideration considering the BlackBerry's heritage as an email device.
BlackBerry 10 learns your typing style, he said, and showed how typing on the keyboard offers auto-fill suggestions that the user can accept by flicking the word up to join the rest of the text, or reject with another gesture.
This will even allow users to type using just a single hand, if using their device on the move for example.
"The keyboard saves you time and keystrokes, even when you are typing on a full touch device," said Heins.
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