Research in Motion is launching its BlackBerry 10 software platform for smartphones today, and the company is providing developers with a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha smartphone to kick the new operating system’s tires and develop apps for the new platform.

Eventually RIM plans to offer the same operating system for both phones and tablets — but for now the company is emphasizing on the smartphone experience.

BlackBerry 10 is a pretty major update to the company’s aging smartphone operating system with a heavy emphasis on touch-based navigation and support for web standards such as HTML5.

There’s a public beta of the developer toolkit for BlackBerry 10 available for download from. There are software developer kits for both smartphones and tablets.

RIM faces some interesting challenges. The company is known for it support for enterprise features including push email and support for security features. BlackBerry phones also set the standard for smartphones with QWERTY keyboards… back when physical keyboards were all the rage.

But in order to keep phones slim and touchscreens large, most modern smartphones use on-screen keyboards instead of physical keyboards. So RIM is emphasizing a new virtual keyboard with features including support for deleting words by swiping across the entire keyboard, intelligent text prediction, and large keys for two-thumb typing.

The keyboard adapts to your behavior, and the overall operating system has been overhauled to make switching between apps simpler.

While the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha phone isn’t a product that will ship to consumers, it gives an idea what we might expect from the first BlackBerry 10 smartphones. It has a 4.2 inch, 768 x 1280 pixel display, micro HDMI port, Bluetooth and WiFi.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...