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Weekend Roundup: BlackBerry 10, Windows Phone 7.8, and Vine

BlackBerry 10 launches

Is BlackBerry starting to turn the corner? That's the question everyone in the tech industry is debating after the Canadian firm debuted its latest operating system, BB10.

You deserve a mild scolding if you missed this week's fruit-themed goings-on, but if you do need to catch up, then Riyad Emeran's live coverage of the blockbuster BlackBerry 10 launch is the place to start.

Now that the new OS and two flagship handsets in the form of the Z10 and Q10 have been unveiled, we're at the stage when we can start forming our own opinion about BlackBerry 10 and what it means for the company behind it. There's plenty of positive signs, especially with regards to the aforementioned hardware - the all-touchscreen Z10 compares well with the iPhone 5, while the QWERTY-rocking Q10 received rave reviews in our hands-on.

But it's the retirement of the Research In Motion moniker that pleases us most. It's a shrewd move from a PR standpoint: RIM the permanently "beleaguered" firm is dead, yet BlackBerry the addictive platform with a surprising knack for helping kickstart urban unrest lives to fight another day. It was, to paraphrase the words of BlackBerry's UK MD Rob Orr - who we interviewed a couple of days ago - the obvious thing to do.

Windows Phone 7.8 rolls out

At the end of 2012, smartphone nerds couldn't really help fawning over Microsoft's new-generation Windows Phone 8 platform and, more specifically, the powerhouse Nokia Lumia 920 that helped announce its arrival.

Enter 2013 and that momentum seems to be ebbing ever so slightly, and the first major announcement from Microsoft's mobile arm this year isn't likely to alter the tide. Far from being a headline-grabber on a par with the Sony Xperia Z or, indeed, BlackBerry 10, the Redmond-based firm's opening salvo was Windows Phone 7.8 - a retrospective nod to the users it left behind when it sent its latest OS live last October.

The real question, of course, is why owners of older Windows Phone handsets can't upgrade to the latest platform, and there has been some lively debate on that subject in the comment section of our "Windows Phone 7.8: what is it and should I upgrade?" guide.

For what it's worth, we sympathise profoundly with those people who bought a shiny new Windows Phone 7.5 device in spring 2012 only to find that they were stuck with a rapidly antiquating handset running a dead end OS a few months later. However, we also can't help but feel that whinging about this injustice has a very limited shelf-life, especially when cheap-as-chips Windows Phone 8 devices like the Nokia Lumia 620 are now hitting the streets.

Vine to flourish

On a personal note, what grabbed my attention most this week was the arrival of Vine, a new video app from the Twitter posse.

Vine didn't cause me to raise an eyebrow because I think the idea of sharing six-second videos is the greatest thing since being able to text "quinoa milk, please" to your coffee machine. No, it registered because I noticed that people who don't normally inhabit the world of geekery - my girlfriend being the case study here - immediately took note of its existence.

Not everyone is smitten with Vine, of course, but it seems poised to take the world of social media by storm, much like its parent service. Personally, I'm veering towards the slightly apprehensive "you can't convey jack in six-seconds" camp, but then I'm often a late-adopter of social media - I arrived at the Facebook party early on, but the Verbose Whale in me still struggles with Twitter's 140-character limit.

For a more critical analysis, read our Vine for iPhone review.