Research In Motion 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 latest one took a closer look at more everyday features. It looks like it does some things very well -- and they're not all things you would necessarily care about.
Flow is basically a fancy word for multitasking, minimising your clicks and reducing the need to constantly navigate back to a window of app icons. We first saw Flow several months ago, and it still looks nice. What Heins didn't address -- yet again -- is how RIM plans to keep all those apps running in the background without totally sapping your batter.
You have multiple views in your BB10 calendar -- both your standard day/week/month options and a People tab that gives you integrated info (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn connections). That last feature is being spun as perfect for last-minute business meetings, which is cool, but we don't see it being used much outside of those instances. Unprepared business people of the world, BB10 is for you!
BlackBerry's messaging service might just be its best feature. It has received a nice little UI update that includes cleaner panels and emoticons (but what about emoji?!). Heins stresses the "one thumb" navigation, which is again ideal for the business person on the go.
You can also text in multiple languages with text prediction, which is a very clever feature, but one that appeals to a narrow niche.
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. 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 get 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 over to iPhones, Androids and Windows Phone 8 devices.
And more than that, even if it were to arrive today -- even if it had arrived earlier in the year -- BB10 seems to serve very few masters. It's a great OS for browbeaten, disorganised, multilingual business persons, but how many of us does that really describe?