The following video has made an appearance from a German blog that managed to get their hands on a demo model of Z10, the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphone. (Turn on the captions while watching the video)
Within the video, it’s quite evident BB10 has a nice, new user interface and quite a few apps. It also seems the operating system is much more responsive and well designed. BlackBerry 10 operating system based on QNX Real Time OS (RTOS) will be unveiled on January 30. We will look at the new technology applied on BlackBerry 10 OS and see what to expect when the smartphone actually hits the market.
So far, the BlackBerry OS was available only on the devices that RIM manufactured. However, in the announcement made last year, Thorsten Heins, the chief executive of RIM, made it clear that other manufacturers may be able to license the BlackBerry 10 platform to make products based on that. This means, you may see a new Samsung, LG, or even Nokia device running BlackBerry 10 operating system.
What Is QNX Real Time OS (RTOS)?
BlackBerry 10 is not a mere upgrade to the existing BlackBerry OS; it is a completely reengineered OS based on QNX. Let me tell you in brief what this OS is all about. Have you heard of Real Time Operating Systems? QNX is one of them. Research In Motion acquired QNX Software Systems in 2010 April. Exactly one year after that significant acquisition, BlackBerry PlayBook was released with the BlackBerry Tablet OS. The Tablet OS was an incarnation of QNX on mobile platforms.
RTOS is a specific type of operating system that can guarantee a task’s (apps in smartphones) execution within a specified time frame. On the other hand, general purpose operating systems do not adhere to a deadline.
A Real Time OS is not developed for mobile platforms or PCs in general. It finds applications in embedded systems, such as the car safety system (airbag controller), medical industry, and industrial machinery. This is mainly because the RTOS can guarantee a response within a time constraint. For instance, an RTOS on your car’s airbag controller can deploy the airbag within a fixed timeframe of hitting a target. If it doesn’t, a life may be lost. An operating system is certified as real time only if it can guarantee these time constraints.
In tablet and smartphone world, an RTOS is generally not required, although it won’t hurt to have one! Also, having an RTOS does not guarantee faster execution of apps. It only means that the app developers can have strict control over the priority of the app’s various operations and threads. For instance, an app developer can tell the OS to do certain important functions at high priority and others at low priority. This way, a particular function will be done within a given time while another function may be postponed.
As an example, BB10 has camera clicks optimized so that the image capture happens exactly at the intended time. Also, the BlackBerry 10 OS can capture images milliseconds before and after the actual capture, to remove issues like blinking.
In a normal OS, such as Windows, Android, or Apple iOS, a user can change app priorities and have another app run at higher priority. On BlackBerry 10, however, these priorities are strictly adhered to.
Because of this, BB10 will be far more robust and reliable. Many times, the system crashes happen because users control the OS functions wrongly. Within BB10, this won’t happen and your system will be essentially crash-proof.
Any other feature of the OS, such as the user interface, design of icons, etc., have nothing to do with the basic core of the OS. Also, as I mentioned earlier, having a real time OS is no guarantee that the smartphone will be faster than an Android phone with similar features.
You will be able to run Android apps on BlackBerry 10. It has to be repackaged though by the developers. Repackaging tools are given by BlackBerry for the purpose. Read more here. However, only the apps developed for Gingerbread 2.3.3 will work, and we have not received any notification about apps for higher versions of Android. Since PlayBook OS 2.1, Android apps on BlackBerry don’t need a player (dedicated app emulator) to run. They run on the system just like native apps.
Basic hardware features of the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphone are as follows: 4.2 inch display with 1280×768 (HD) resolution, 2GB RAM, Texas Instruments OMAP processor (4470) 1.5 GHz dual-core, 16 GB storage (with MicroSD slot), 8 MP camera.
The disappointment is the TI OMAP processor that is based on ARM Cortex-A9. You really need to look forward to the higher end architecture, Cortex-A15. Also, the processor is dual-core. With 2 GB RAM, we expected a more current processor. We did not find any information about the graphics card to come with the smartphone.
The display of only 4.2 inches is smaller than many popular smartphones and tablets. We expected a larger display. Also, if RIM licenses BB10 out to other OEMs, we may be seeing better hardware features. Also, we have no idea yet as to the system requirements of the new OS. It may be that the OS is much resource-thirsty that it can run well within the hardware given. Also, of the 16 GB internal storage, BB10 OS with apps takes only half a GB of size.
Another important thing is that BlackBerry is releasing a smartphone without its signature QWERTY keyboard (although a QWERTY version will also be released). This is probably the first time that BlackBerry is making a firm stand in current smartphone designs. Also, the involved touchscreen keyboard is a very smart one. Check it out:
The BB10 is expected to be a fresh new operating system, and if you have experience using the BlackBerry PlayBook, you should be already familiar with certain nuances of this OS. Are you concerned about apps availability? I don’t think you need to be. Several Android apps will be available for BlackBerry 10, only that they need to be repackaged by the developers.
Check this tweet out, from RIM (with the icon of Jan 30 unveiling of BlackBerry 10), talking about 15,000 apps being submitted within 2 days:
With Apple iOS being stale and iPhone sales dropping slightly in the recent times, I believe it will probably be a good chance for RIM to come back to the industry it lost. Also, even if they don’t make it big among smartphone consumers, they may satisfy a lot of businesses out there. Also, with QNX in hand, they have a responsibility toward safety and security in other industries. More about the OS and its performance can be found only after the device comes to the market. Wait for it. January 30, 2013.