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Research In Motion launched its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system Wednesday in a bid to remake the smartphone company and return to its former mobile market glory.
RIM President and CEO Thorsten Heins introduced BlackBerry 10, as well as two new devices, at a launch event in New York and demonstrated many of the new features and changes for the BlackBerry platform. Heins talked about the evolution of mobile computing and how personal and professional functionality are converging as devices become more connected. "We will be the leader in connecting you to the Internet of things," he said.
Some of the biggest changes for the BlackBerry OS are around multi-tasking and applications. One of the most important new features for BB10 is BlackBerry Flow, which allows users to easily move from different apps and features without quitting them altogether. In addition, BlackBerry Peek gives users the ability to "slide" the touch screen from an app to a home screen in order to check notifications.
The previously announced BlackBerry Balance, meanwhile, creates two profiles -- one for personal use, and one for work -- and keeps the data and applications separate but also lets users seamlessly switch from one profile to another. Another enterprise feature, BlackBerry Remember, combines memos, calendar items, tasks and other time-sensitive data into one experience so users can better manage their data.
As for multimedia features, the new BlackBerry Messenger now comes with Screenshare, which gives BlackBerry users the ability to share their entire screens with one another. TimeShift, another new feature, allows users to fine-tune their photos by taking multiple pictures before and after they actually snap the photo, giving them the ability to fine-tune photos by moving backward or forward in time. And for multimedia editing, BlackBerry 10 has Story Maker, an app that lets users combine and edit photos, video and music into shareable HD movies or presentations.
Along with new features, RIM emphasized mobile applications and developer support. Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations for RIM, said the company made developer outreach a priority for BB10 and met with software designers from all over the world during the construction of the OS. "We've literally been to every continent on the planet, except for Antarctica," Saunders said, adding, "There are no developers there."
As a result, Saunders said there's "a huge wave of support" for BB10 from the developer community, which had been a key issue for RIM in recent years. Martyn Mallick vice president of global alliances and business development for RIM, said BB10 has more than 70,000 apps at launch, which he claimed was more than any other first-generation software release. "With the momentum we've built, we'll continue to see thousands of apps added each week."