updated 09:00 am EDT, Tue May 1, 2012
Keyboard offers swipe shortcuts for common words
Research In Motion has finally previewed its BlackBerry 10 software, which will power the company's Dev Alpha handset before arriving on other devices. In an attempt to maintain the traditional BlackBerry pedigree, the new OS focuses on productivity and brings a new virtual keyboard that mimics the company's characteristic hardware keyboards.
The virtual keyboard splits four rows of keys with the traditional BlackBerry frets, now represented as virtual gaps rather than physical ridges. The company claims the keyboard is paired with modeling algorithms that attempt to learn where users place their fingers to tap each key, eventually customizing the strike zones to avoid mistypes.
To further enhance typing speed, the keyboard presents shortcuts to common words. When starting a sentence, for example, a user can press the 'W' key and swipe upwards to automatically enter 'We', or swipe the 'T' key to enter 'The'. The shortcut words automatically switch to new choices as a user continues to type.
Aside from the new keyboard, the OS also utilizes a new method for organizing menus and multitasking. Users can swipe left or right to quickly switch between e-mail or messaging threads, full messages, documents or other tasks.
RIM's new CEO, Thorsten Heins, suggests the preview does not shed light on all of the new features for BlackBerry 10. Analysts view the OS update as significant to the company's fate, as the BlackBerry platform continues to lose market share to iOS and Android.
The first BlackBerry 10 devices are expected to arrive later this year, however specific details have yet to be announced.