BlackBerry 10 borrowing even more from webOS
When you're doing something awesome, people can't help but notice. They might not acknowledge it, but they take note and sometimes they just outright copy it. We saw it before when Research in Motion introduced the BlackBerry PlayBook, and we're seeing it again with today's introduction of BlackBerry 10. Where the PlayBook copied wholesale the multitasking card user interface of webOS back in late 2010 (prompting a "heh, good luck" from HP), today in 2012 RIM is copying the sliding panes of Enyo into the upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system.
Unveiled today at the BlackBerry World 2012 keynote, the BlackBerry 10 developer alpha is both interesting and confounding. While it looks nice, the operating system amps gestures up to a level unseen by even webOS. At least with webOS phones the only non-standard gestures you have to know are the back swipe and tossing away a card - everything else is self explanatory. With BlackBerry 10 gestures have become essential to every aspect of the operating system, with few visual cues that we could discern to help increase discoverability and lessen the learning curve. Strangely missing from the demos was the multitasking UI of the PlayBook OS.
The BlackBerry 10 dev alpha is based off of the PlayBook OS, which has had its own share of struggles, though RIM at least seems to have learned a lot in the process. We're intrigued by the pairing of predictive text with letters on the keyboard and how it apparently will learn how you type and adjust the tap area for buttons accordingly, yet amused in an admittedly somewhat condescending manner with the faux-realistic appearance of the virtual keyboard (down to entirely non-functional 'frets' between the rows - on the physical keyboard they serve as tactile guides, on a virtual keyboard they are there just because).
Understandably, Kevin and the gang over at CrackBerry are excited by today's announcements. We're cautiously optimistic, as RIM has for the past few years been showing off awesome tech demos that never made it to a shipping product (or when they arrived were nowhere near as awesome as the demo). With the future of Open webOS devices a big unknown, we have to ask: is anybody giving BlackBerry 10 consideration?