BlackBerry 10 OS – hands on preview (part two)

We've wrapped our mitts around RIM's latest version of the upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS. Click on through for all the juicy details

BlackBerry 10 – overview

Our last BlackBerry 10 hands on preview saw us get up close and personal with a few features in BlackBerry's upcoming OS, running on RIM's BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha phone.

We met up with RIM again to see the latest tricks that BlackBerry 10 has to offer, this time running on a beta version of its developer handset. Read on for all the juicy details.

BlackBerry 10 – lock screen

It's easy to mistake BlackBerry 10's lock screen for a home screen, thanks to  its prominent clock, agenda and messages and notification icons. There's also a camera app shortcut for shutterbugs who want to get snapping away as fast as possible.

Dragging your thumb up from the bottom of the device will let you glimpse active frames – RIM's name for open apps. If you have the weather app running for example, you can quickly check whether or not you'll need a brolly with a quick swipe.

BlackBerry 10 – home screen

BlackBerry 10 doesn't have a traditional home screen as such. Instead, you're met with a selection of your most recently used active frames – essentially tiles of recently opened apps. These are updated in real time, like widgets, and a simple swipe from right to left reveals the more traditional apps menu.

BlackBerry 10 – notifications

RIM has ditched the permanent notification bar to save screen real estate. Now when the  familiar red notification light fires up, a simple swipe up from the bottom of the device slides in a notification bar on the left while continuing the swipe will open up your unified message centre. The last time we saw BlackBerry 10 in action the notifications were on the right, showing that RIM is still tinkering away at the little details.

BlackBerry 10 – message centre and calendar

Emails, Facebook, Twitter – you name it, the unified message centre has it, all under one handy roof. You can filter your messages by category and swiping down in the message centre will pull out your calendar – another welcome time saver RIM has implemented to shave off those precious few seconds.

BlackBerry 10 – contacts

Fire up your contacts and you can access everything from their Facebook statuses to whatever information the internet pulls up on them. Selecting a tech journalist for example will display stories they've written. A stalker's dream come true.

BlackBerry 10 – keyboard

We were already impressed with the BlackBerry 10 keyboard in our last hands on preview, but this time RIM showed off it's multi-linguistic capabilities by demonstrating how the predictive text could jump in and out of different languages based on what was being typed, without ever having to manually change the language in a settings menu. Très bien.

BlackBerry 10 – security

The BlackBerry name has been synonymous with security in the past and BlackBerry 10 makes it even easier to separate sensitive work files from your personal life. A single swipe down from the top will bring up a 'personal' and 'work' button which lets you effortlessly switch between work and play profiles, with separate notifications, secure files and accounts for personal and work-related use. It's the ultimate way to switch off at the weekends without having to manually flip switches on and off for different accounts.

BlackBerry 10 – browser

Tabbed browsing and a reader mode make a return in BlackBerry 10's browser, the latter of which strips out everything bar the article text and relevant pictures for easier reading, while adjustable font sizes will make it easier for veteran gadgeteers with screen-riddled eyesight to read content.

BlackBerry 10 – camera

While it was too difficult to make out the true quality of the BlackBerry 10 Dev Beta handset's camera in the low-lit conditions we were in, we were still impressed with BlackBerry 10's time shift feature which takes captures images before and after you press the shutter button. This allows you to fast forward or rewind a person's face to ensure that any closed eyes or odd looks can be erased from history. So long Photoshop.

BlackBerry 10 – first impressions

RIM has invested heavily in gesture control for BlackBerry 10, with most core features being accessible with a single thumb and a few swipes. It's a fresh, fluid and very much welcome approach to the 'jump in and out' experience currently available on smartphones.

However, while anything that saves us unnecessary taps and swipes goes straight into our good books, RIM has to ensure that users can ease into this new world of gesture-based control as easy as possible, as it's quite a big transition.

The confirmed video tutorials out of the box are a good start to help people re-wire their old habits, but with the first BlackBerry 10 devices not set to land till early next year, only time will tell how RIM's major revamp will hold up in the smartphone arena.

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