Some nice camera and keyboard touches.
Vivek Bhardwaj, RIM's Head of Software Portfolio, lead our preview and focused on two key areas, app flow and input, and threw in an impressive peek at the camera app. BlackBerry 7 did little to alter the way you use a BlackBerry. The PlayBook's OS is the basis for what we're seeing here, and is fundamentally what's running in the BlackBerry 10 Developer Alpha hardware being handed out at the event today. The PlayBook's multitasking echoed the scheme we saw in WebOS, cards that can be quickly swiped between. BlackBerry 10 introduces a scheme that stacks cards that have been opened in succession, and allows a drag to the left to peek at the stack underneath. This paradigm borrows much from WebOS 3.0, though it's unclear what's changed in terms of app switching. If it's anything like the PlayBook's multitasking method, it'll be a huge improvement over BlackBerry 7.
FInal hardware is likely to include a similarly high resolution screen; RIM wouldn't be asking developers to optimize for that screen if they were going to simply ship a 3" 320x240 LCD. NFC can certainly be expected, and though RIM seemed to have an almost Luddite fascination with outdated SoCs in some past devices, we can expect the silicon to be equivalent or better than the PlayBook's OMAP 4430. Despite the emphasis on soft keyboards during the presentation, RIM wouldn't abandon their portrait QWERTY's, and have even committed to implementing the same text prediction engine on those devices.
Palm's gamble was a good one. Once the dominant player in mobile computing, the shift from Palm OS to WebOS was huge and, at times, terribly well executed. But where Palm faltered (performance, hardware and bugginess, notably), the deficits were too great to overcome the successes of Android and iOS. With WebOS defeated, RIM now prepares to take its gamble; and attempt to maintain their corporate customers while also growing amongst consumers. We'll hopefully not have to wait long to see how they fare.
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