BlackBerry Jam Asia 2012 - BlackBerry 10, BBM 7.0, BlackBerry World & More

BlackBerry Jam Asia 2012 - BlackBerry 10, BBM 7.0, BlackBerry World & More

Jamming to a Focus on BlackBerry 10 and More

The buzz around BlackBerry 10 has admittedly died down due to its delayed and overdue appearance. Thankfully, that wait is almost coming to an end - slightly over a month after the upcoming BlackBerry Jam Asia event on 30th of January next year, we will finally get a glimpse at the official devices. Yes, BlackBerry 10 will come in two form factors, full touchscreen and QWERTY, in the initial run. Fortunately, the BB10 OS experience is said to be exactly the same across both type of devices, though we'll have to wait for the actual devices to be out before we can ascertain that claim.

This isn't the first time that the BB10 operating system has made its appearance but it's the first time that it has been officially shown in Asia. The salient selling points of the OS have remained more or less unchanged. As Vivek Bhardwaj, Head of Software Portfolio at RIM, puts it - the OS strives to conform to a natural experience and hence, all physical navigation buttons have been stripped down, resulting in a gesture-heavy experience. Of course, power and hardware buttons like the volume rocker still remain (for screenshots, simply hold down both volume up and down button). To meet the current needs of a constantly-evolving smartphone climate, emphasis has also been placed on creating a visually-pleasing user interface, a major shift from its traditionally text-heavy UI.

It is unsurprisingly then, the three keywords surrounding the BB10 experience are Flow, Peek and Hub. Content should "flow" continuously with users always able to "peek" at ongoing activity and notifications, without users having to go back and fro - this is heavily emphasized in the below demo video, where Bhardwaj showcased the OS's ability to keep important information, literally, at your fingertips and in one central "hub":

 

Navigation (Flow UI)

Slide up on the lockscreen to get a natural gradient lifting off to reveal your last opened app. It can be customized to feature access to important tasks like emails, notifications and camera.

The app launcher features a total of 16 apps, laid out side-by-side in a familiar icon design. To toggle settings, simply swipe down from the top.

Recently-opened apps are laid out in widget style, for easy viewing and closing. Up to eight apps can be displayed, with the top left spot reserved for the most recent used app.



BlackBerry Hub

BlackBerry Hub is essentially what the People Hub is to the Windows Phone 8 platform. In here, you get all your connections in one place, be it your emails, contacts, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Not only do you get your information in one integrated hub, you can also update your status here. Simply because it's the main hive of activity and communications on the BlackBerry OS, RIM has made it easy to access by simply swiping up and then right in a single action, as you can see from our video embedded above.

 

Keyboard 

RIM has always been well-known for its physical QWERTY keyboards on it mobile devices and as such, it is no surprise that RIM gave a lot of attention on the onscreen keyboard in the BB10 OS. The keyboard engine dynamically learns your pattern of typing and word pattern based on your usage and thumb size to offer more accurate suggestions. If the smartphone device is passed on to someone else, it will intelligently detect his/her thumb size, usage pattern and re-calibrate suitable suggestions. Instead of being displayed in the bar above your keyboard, these suggestions hover above the next letter in the "predicted" word. Simply flick up your chosen suggestion from the keyboard.

The new intelligent keyboard on the BB10 OS looks primed for one-handed typing as you can simply flick up the correctly-suggested word.


Camera & Time Shift

The camera on the BlackBerry 10 OS gets additional features such as Face Detection and a nifty one called Time Shift. Similar to LG's Time Action Shot, the camera allows users to take a few seconds of stills before and after it has been fired up. After that, you can cycle through forward and back to select the correct moment. You can zoom into faces so that you can have a better idea of which photo to select.

Once the camera detects a face in the photo, you can zoom in and cycle through the shots by moving your finger around the dial. Select your photo by tapping on the face once again.

 

Moving Forward in BlackBerry 10

Looks like RIM's schedule for the next few months will be pretty jam (no pun intended) packed.

Will there be more BlackBerry 10 devices coming out next year? According to Hastings Singh, Managing Director of South Asia, Research In Motion, the answer is yes. RIM has plans to tackle all three target markets (premium, mid-range and affordable) and will be introducing a total of six BB10 based devices throughout the entire year. The first two to be introduced on the 30th of January will of course be the flagship models and RIM aims to compete the two premium products with other popular high-end devices like the Samsung Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5. As such, the pair will retail at equivalent premium prices (not known as of now) and be available in the Asian region by the first quarter of next year. The other four would be marketed a little differently as RIM finds it important to provide devices for markets with an appetite for affordable price points.

Mobile phones aside, existing and new PlayBooks will also be slated for BB10 OS updates, but that will not happen until after the launch of the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones. There will not be any changes in support for older BB 7 OS devices as RIM plans to run the two operating systems concurrently. 

Other Highlights from BlackBerry Jam Asia 2012
BlackBerry App World Drops 'App', Now Known As BlackBerry World

BlackBerry App World Drops 'App', Now Known As BlackBerry World

NEWS / 30 Nov 2012

Formerly known as BlackBerry App World, the storefront will henceforth be called BlackBerry World. Name change aside, the more exciting addition is the ability for users to purchase movies, music and other digital content.

BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha C QWERTY Device Announced for Developers

BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha C QWERTY Device Announced for Developers

NEWS / 30 Nov 2012

RIM has announced the availability of the Dev Alpha C device, one that comes with a physical QWERTY keyboard, for developers. To further complement a robust developer environment, the final BlackBerry 10 Gold SDK will be available for download on 11 December, ahead of its official launch.

Wi-Fi-only BBM Voice Chat May Include Group Chat and Cellular Support in the Future

Wi-Fi-only BBM Voice Chat May Include Group Chat and Cellular Support in the Future

NEWS / 30 Nov 2012

The recently announced BBM 7.0 has been available in beta for a little after two weeks and RIM's Vice President of Product Strategy, T.A. McCann sheds more light about its Voice Chat feature during BlackBerry Jam Asia.