Much ink has already been spilled on the relative pros and cons of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that powers the new BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10, announced Wednesday in New York, but what does this latest update in the super-competitive and ever-evolving smartphone space mean for travelers? Here’s a peek at our favorite features.
BlackBerry Balance: Taking advantage of BlackBerry’s work-friendly DNA, this feature lets you toggle between “Work” and “Personal” modes, so that you don’t have to worry about getting disturbing emails from the office while relaxing on a stunning Caribbean beach (both the Z10 and the Q10 are world-compatible for roaming, regardless of carrier).
BlackBerry Peek: Say a message comes in for you while you’re streaming a movie—just swipe from left to right and you’ll get split-screen preview of the message while your movie continues to play. In other words, you don’t need to turn off your in-terminal entertainment just to see if that email contains a Delta upgrade.
The Keyboard: On the Z10, the new touchscreen keyboard is noticeably better than any other we’ve tried. Its intuitive system gets ‘smarter’ the more you use it, learning to correct your particular typos, typical abbreviations, and phrases—in up to three languages. It’s perfect for those practicing their elementary German in Berlin, or searching for recommended tables in France.
BlackBerry Timeshift: Timeshift captures your photos a few seconds before and after they’re taken, allowing you to adjust the image before you save it (ideally, finding that moment when nobody is blinking). The 8-megapixel camera isn’t too shabby, either.
BlackBerry StoryMaker: A digital scrapbooking tool, it lets you mix and match photos and videos to document and share your trip.
BlackBerry Hub: A key component of the new BlackBerry Flow OS, Hub serves as a universal inbox on steroids, giving you instant updates to all your social networks in one place in a way that’s more robust than anything we’ve seen from Windows Phone 8 or Android devices.
BlackBerry World: The BlackBerry store for apps, movies, music, and TV shows offers purchases and rentals–but no cloud-based service yet. And with 70,000 apps at launch—including Kindle, Foursquare, Skype, Skyscanner and others—BlackBerry has taken off with a good, if not fully comprehensive, start. (Still on deck: Instagram, Vine, Netflix, and other massive apps.)
Expect the new devices to hit shelves in March and April on all major carriers. Can’t wait? Verizon is already accepting pre-registrations online ($200 with a two-year contract; verizonwireless.com).
Tom Samiljan is Travel + Leisure's Tech Correspondent.