RIM CEO and possible Bond villain Thorstein Heins gave the world its best look at BlackBerry 10 today; while previous demos had focused on the camera and keyboard, this morning focused on even more everyday features. It looks like it does some things very well—and that they're not the things you'd care about.
We'd seen flow several months ago already, and it still looks like a nice! It's basically a fancy word for multitasking, minimising your clicks and keeping you away from having to constantly navigate back to a window of app icons. What Heins didn't address—again—is how RIM plans to keep all those apps running in the background without giving your battery a major sad.
You've got multiple views you can look at, both your standard day/week/month options and a People tab that gives you integrated info (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn connections) of whoever your meeting is with. That last feature is being spun as perfect for last-minute business meetings, which is fair but probably a limited use-case. Unprepared business people of the world, BB10 is for you!
BlackBerry's messaging service might just be its best feature, and it's gotten a nice little UI update, one that includes cleaner panels and, yes, emoticons (but what about emoji?!). Heins stresses the "one thumb" navigation, which is again good for the business person on the go who has his trenta americano in a death grip.
You can also text in multiple languages with text prediction, which is a very clever feature but one that appeals to an even narrower niche. BlackBerry 10: For Tardy, Caffeinated, Polyglot Business Persons.
BB10 also allows you to live two lives on your device, a work life and a personal life. It's essentially two siloed user profiles, and RIM has advanced the idea far enough that it even has a separate enterprise App World. It's a way to keep sensitive corporate info safer, although (and this is a sincere point) I don't know how much of an issue that's been for Android and iPhone Fortune 500 users. Presumably if it had been one, well, they wouldn't have switched?
Beyond the corporate security piece, it's hard to imagine that anyone would actively seek out this feature who's not a CTO. That's the bigger problem, isn't it? People want their work phones to also be their personal phones, but this implementation isn't something you seek out as a consumer. It's something you're issued by your IT guy.
This new peek, combined with what we saw earlier this year, gives the impression of a very competent mobile operating system. But it's also one that we're still months and months away from, during which time more and more companies will switch on over to iPhones and Androids and, with Windows 8 synergies kicking in just next month, WP8.
And more than that, even if it were to arrive today—even if it had arrived last Autumn—BB10 seems to serve very few masters. It's a great OS for a browbeaten, unorganised, over-caffeinated, multilingual business persons sure. But how many people does that really describe? Outside, that is, of RIM itself.