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BlackBerry launches BB10 mobile OS

  • BlackBerry Z10
  • B10 keyboard
  • BB10 OS

BlackBerry has officially launched its next-generation BB10 mobile operating system, revealing the software at a global launch event designed to drum up hype for the devices that will hopefully save the ailing company.

Based around the real-time QNX operating system, first adopted by RIM for the company's BlackBerry PlayBook business tablet, BlackBerry 10 is designed to bring the company's brand into the 21st century as it sees increasing numbers of consumers abandoning their BlackBerry handsets for devices from Google, Apple and Microsoft.

BB10 ditches physical buttons for a touch-screen interface, with a grid-based system of icons that should be immediately familiar to any iPhone 5 owner. There's no home button - apps are opened, switched and closed using swipes in a design BlackBerry is calling Flow.

BB10 OS

Another integral part of the new OS is BlackBerry Hub, which merges all your social networks, email and messaging services without forcing you into a specific app to answer a text, respond to a friend request or send a tweet. It also allows for video calling over BBM for the first time, along with screen mirroring to your caller's handset.

B10 keyboard

The new on-screen keyboard interface predicts words as you type, letting you swipe entire words into your line of text or switch between languages instantly without having to dive into a settings menu.

BlackBerry says that when the first BB10 devices launch tomorrow, customers will be able to install apps from a growing list of over 70,000 already available from the BlackBerry World store. Beyond the major social networks, other big app developers already confirmed to be working on BB10 include Skype, Kindle, WhatsApp and [groan) Angry Birds, with more to follow.

BB10 is a major departure from previous BlackBerry operating systems, and has some vast differences to Android and iOS, so we won't know how well it will be received with customers until BB10 devices go on sale. We'll have to wait until later this week when the Z10 launches in the UK and we get our hands on one to bring you our in-depth impressions.

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