Developing

Hands on with BlackBerry's new Z10 touchscreen

BlackBerry's 'relaunch' isn't going to sink Apple's iPhone, or stop Google's army of Androids in its tracks - but the new, 'fun' face of BlackBerry offers plenty of new ideas.

BlackBerry's 'relaunch' isn't going to sink Apple's iPhone, or stop Google's army of Androids in its tracks - but the new, 'fun' face of BlackBerry offers plenty of new ideas.

The ability to 'split' a phone so that a corporate handset can switch instantly into a 'personal' phone filled with apps is a superb idea - and likely to bring a smile to IT departments as much as the workers they cater for.

Corporate IT departments, after all, are going to be some of the biggest buyers of this new incarnation of BlackBerry.

But the addition of 70,000 apps including Angry Birds, music and films, should mean that workers won't slope off and buy their own iPhones - this works perfectly well as an entertainment device, and is very nearly as much fun as anything Google or Apple can dream up.





That in itself is a giant leap for BlackBerry. But the Canadian company has not lost its focus on mobile email - an idea it pioneered a decade ago.

The fast-moving 'Hub' inbox which brings together Twitter, Facebook, email, BBM and LinkedIn in one list would probably make a 19th-century person's brain explode - but it's a great centrepiece app for the communication-oriented device, with filters to cut down the flood of messages if it all gets too much.

You can also flip upwards to see upcoming appointments instantly - complete with LinkedIn CVs for people you're meeting.

On-the-go workers will spend a lot of time in Hub.

BB10 has also had the courage to - mostly - get rid of the familiar grids of app icons that first cropped up on Palm gizmos in the Nineties.

Instead, the phone is meant to run lots of apps at once, swiping sideways between them, with 'active frames' displaying information on screen, such as how many emails are in your inbox.

The 'Peek' function also lets users swipe sideways to see alerts such as Facebook messages and emails even while using an app such as video - popping direct back in the app if the user decides not to look at their messages right that second.

Naturally, the phone also offers secure email - and even has the classic 'red flash' to show when there's a new email waiting.

The simple gesture control and always-there keyboard should help to ensure that the famous speed ofBlackBerry users - able to out-email Android and iPhone fans - remains.

It isn't perfect though - there might be 70,000 apps available at launch, but that's less than a tenth of what's on offer via Google and Apple's app stores.

It also remains to be seen whether many game developers will warm to the new platform - if they don't, it won't be easy luring in young users.