BlackBerry OS 10 Previewed and Released For Developers

BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha developer testing device

It hasn't been an easy couple of months for RIM,  makers of the BlackBerry. The Waterloo, Canada-based company has lost key board members as well as significant smartphone market share to Apple and Android phone makers. But today the smartphone maker is announcing more details on the next version of its phones, which it hopes will help it regain momentum.

BlackBerry OS 10 is the next version of its operating system, and today the company released the software to developers and app makers at its BlackBerry World 2012 conference in Orlando.

"There is tremendous interest, anticipation and momentum building toward the launch of BlackBerry 10 devices, and today we're extremely excited to release the BlackBerry 10 developer beta tools for general use," Christopher Smith, RIM's vice president for handheld application platform and tools, said in a statement.

RIM is giving those developers at the conference a BlackBerry 10 phone - called the Dev Alpha developer testing device - to use to develop apps for the new software. RIM also previewed the BlackBerry 10 software, which has a drastically different interface and design than previous versions of the smartphone software. The interface lets you swipe between apps and has a new and improved touchscreen keyboard.

"We're making incredible progress on BlackBerry 10," RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said in his keynote at the conference. "You can see the detail that we are putting into this platform," he added.

While consumers won't be able to buy this phone, the device gives us an idea of what these future BlackBerrys might look like. Straying from the traditional BlackBerry form factor, the phone doesn't have a hardware keyboard but a big 4.2-inch, 1280×768-resolution touchscreen.

Heins also announced that the first BlackBerry 10 devices would will be out later this year. He didn't provide a concrete date, but it has been rumored for an October launch.