At a lavish event in New York today, BlackBerry announced its new smartphone platform: BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry 10 is the company's attempt to take on the Apple iPhone, Android phones and even Microsoft's nascent Windows Phone 8 handsets. It has a whole new set of apps and media-purchasing outlets, and will be the OS on which all forthcoming BlackBerry phones run. See also: BlackBerry 10 launch: As it happened. See also: BlackBerry Z10 review and BlackBerry 10 review.
BlackBerry has changed its name from Research in Motion, and confirmed that it will take on the other smartphone makers on its own platform, rather than partnering with either Android or Windows Phone. For a company with falling market share this is a risk, but a necessary risk. Here's details of BlackBerry 10. See also: BlackBerry launches Z10 and Q10 smartphones.
BlackBerry 10 launches with two new handsets, the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10. The Z10 launches in the UK tomorrow on all major networks. See also: BlackBerry 10 Price in UK: Q10 & Z10.
BlackBerry 10: new features
BlackBerry 10 is based around a function BlackBerry refers to as 'BlackBerry Flow'. This is a descriptive term for the way that the BlackBerry 10 OS supports multitasking - allowing you to perform all functions from a single interface, with apps running seemlessly in the background.
Key to this is the BlackBerry Hub - a centralised messaging centre that brings together email, instant messages and social media updates. By using a single swiping gesture anywhere in the OS you can access the Hub. This provides direct access to incoming messages, and lets users send messages of any type from wherever they are in their phone. It's a similar concept to the Share charm in Windows 8, although in the demonstration we saw it looked like a slicker implementation.
Staying on the theme of messaging, BlackBerry also announced an upgrade to its popular BBM instant-messaging application. This is a little like the iPhone's FaceTime feature, but BBM now has integrated video chat, a feature that allows users to share their screens at the same time as chatting over video.
BlackBerry also announced a feature of BlackBerry 10 called BlackBerry Balance. This splits your phone into work and private partitions. Your business's IT department can lock down and control the former, but you can do what you like with the latter. A virtual firewall between the two partitions allows you to treat your work phone as your media player, conscience clear, with no risk of losing business data.
BlackBerry said that there are 70,000 apps in the new BlackBerry World app and media store, and that all major movie and music labels will be supporting the platform with media sales. It also said that all major apps are there, or will be, including Skype, Kindle and Angry Birds.
"Today represents a new day in the history of BlackBerry," said Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry.
"Two years ago, we had to make a very serious decision: adopt somebody else's platform or build a whole new one," he said. "And we made the tough call to go it alone."