Research In Motion Ltd. peeled back the wrapping on its highly anticipated BlackBerry 10 operating system on Thursday, giving a coveted peak at the not-yet-finished device, and proving it’s ready to compete.
The company showcased a well-designed and sleek technological device. However, while it stacks up well against the competition, its success will ultimately be in the hands of sometimes fickle consumers – many of whom have moved to other platforms due to RIM’s delays in releasing BlackBerry 10.
RIM’s phones are expected to be released by the end of March.
The test version of the BlackBerry 10 phone was revealed by John Mutter, RIM’s enterprise mobility architect leader. He showed off the firm’s new Time Warp photo feature, which allows a photographer to rewind to when their subject’s eyes were not closed. Calendar and scheduling functions have been updated and upcoming appointments are displayed on the phone’s lock screen, so users don’t have to dig through applications to find out if something is coming up. The phone’s predictive text features were also impressive. Predictive text guesses what word the author is trying to type, saving keystrokes. Where BlackBerry 10′s predictive text differs from competitors is in its ability to automatically switch from English to other languages.
The feature is sure to be a boon for workers, such as those within Canada’s federal government, who need to respond to emails in multiple languages.
Other features, which have already been showcased, include the device’s ability to run applications in the background, much like a desktop computer does when a window is minimized, and a micro-HDMI plug, which will allow a business person to hook an external high-definition display to their phone. The feature allows for presentations to be run from a BlackBerry 10 phone.
The BlackBerry 10 was featured at a meeting Thursday at the Delta Ottawa City Centre, where the company was trying to drum up interest from key business application developers as part of its global BlackBerry Jam tour.
The company has been holding developer round tables all over the world in order to show off various versions of BlackBerry 10 software and devices, with the hopes of firing up developer interest.
Leading the talk was Mutter, who showed a handful of features on the new phone while saying that the best was yet to come. Apparently RIM is holding back on most of the sexy, groundbreaking stuff until closer to the phone’s launch next year for fear of having competitors rip off their ideas.
“We’re holding a lot of stuff back,” said Mutter. “There is nothing that would make me happier than to show it all. We have packed a lot of features into this device.”
One of the big differentiators that Mutter could talk about was BlackBerry Balance. It’s one worth paying attention to.
Balance is aimed at supporting the Bring Your Own Device movement. According to a recent study by Citrix Systems, more than 34 per cent of Canadian firms are already offering some sort of BYOD policy. An additional 27 per cent of companies plan to offer BYOD over the next 12 months.
There is no doubt that interest in allowing consumers to bring their own devices to work is booming and the number of companies offering BYOD policies will only increase. But the real issue causing companies to pause when implementing BYOD is security. As more workers become mobile, more hackers are looking to exploit those devices to steal corporate secrets.
According to recently released report by security researcher Trend Micro, the number of “high-risk” and “dangerous” applications targeting users of Google Inc.’s Android operating system increased from 30,000 in June to more than 175,000 in September. While Apple Inc.’s App Store has a far better track record when it comes to screening out malicious apps, its far from infallible. In July, security researcher Kaspersky Lab revealed an app called Find & Call was harvesting data from iPhone users’ contact lists and using that information to spam people with SMS messages.
If there is one thing that RIM has always done well, it’s security. With BlackBerry 10, the company is going leaps and bounds beyond its competitors by effectively partitioning the user’s phone into two separate environments; one for personal use and one for business use.
When in personal use mode, all of a person’s games, apps, pictures, videos and personal emails are available. In business mode, or “enterprise” as the company calls it, only business applications, emails and schedules are available.
Corporate IT workers can also control what can be downloaded and installed on the enterprise side of things. The two environments never mix, meaning if a user downloads a malicious app in their personal environment, only their personal details are at risk.
The corporate network, apps and any business applications the user may have remain safe.
Even if a person tossed their corporate phone to a child who went on a crazy app downloading rampage, all corporate information remains secure. Mutter said, in order to keep business and personal use separate, many people are now carrying multiple devices.
“People don’t want to walk around carrying two devices,” he said.
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