Late last year, shortly after RIM made BlackBerry 10 official, it became clear that the company was strongly focusing on touch and all-touches devices in its next-generation OS. This worried me a bit, because I love RIM's hardware QWERTY keyboards, and I wrote a post urging RIM not to forget how important those keyboards are to most loyal BlackBerry customers. After spending some time with the new QWERTY BlackBerry 10 device, my concerns are completely alleviated.
RIM definitely did not let down customers who love that QWERTY hardware keyboard with this new device. The keyboard is fantastic, and even though I only spent a few minutes typing on it, I was impressed right away and plan to get a new BlackBerry 10 QWERTY smartphone as soon as possible.
BlackBerry 10 Software
One blogger I read who is relatively unbiased when it comes to RIM and BlackBerry, and technology in general, is The Verge's Joshua Topolsky. RIM gave Topolsky a BlackBerry 10 demo a couple of weeks ago, and he wrote that the software feels very much like what had already been seen in official demonstrations and on the BlackBerry Dev Alpha device. I disagree. The software is far more polished now than ever before.
The BlackBerry 10 software is smooth and snappy, though the camera app froze momentarily when I tried to access the image gallery after taking a few photos. The software is still being tweaked so some minor issues are expected.
Most importantly, the BlackBerry 10 software feels unique; it doesn't feel like iOS or Android or Windows Phone. It feels like BlackBerry 10--and maybe just a little bit like Palm's retired webOS. That uniqueness is refreshing.
Again, I can't get into too many specifics, but one of RIM's main goals when creating BlackBerry 10 was to eliminate some of the steps that modern smartphone users have to take when launching and switching between apps, to speed up and streamline the processes. At the heart of this effort is a unified inbox that serves as a central hub for checking all of your various notifications without ever stopping what you're doing.
Gestures are also particularly important to BlackBerry 10, and RIM came up with some cool new ways for users to interact with the devices, apps and the touch-screen keyboard using simple gestures. Some of these gestures will take some getting used to because they really are different than anything that's available today. But the gestures are well thought out, and they should eventually become second-nature to users who learn and use them.
Why Great BlackBerry 10 Hardware, Software Might Not be Enough to Save RIM
After I told my Twitter followers that I was getting a BlackBerry 10 demo, I got a response from a reader (@khalmarri) that made me smile:
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