Besides battery life issues, one of the questions I get asked the most about BlackBerry 10 is whether it will still hang like the legacy BlackBerry Os. (Why I get asked such when I obviously do now work for Research in Motion is a mystery for another day). Back to the issue at hand. If you read my interview with Waldi Wepener, a Director at RIM, he admitted fluidity was a drawback for the current OS but said “we are working to ensure that BlackBerry 10 is as fluid an experience as possible.”
So how is it that BlackBerry 10 won’t freeze while the legacy Os is almost synonymous with “hanging?” The answer is the architecture of QNX, the foundation on which BlackBerry 10 is built.
QNX is a microkernel-based OS, meaning most of the OS run in the form of a number of small tasks, this differs from the more traditional monolithic kernel, (like the legacy Os) in which the operating system is a single very large program composed of a huge number of “parts” with special abilities. The “small tasks” or servers as they are called, run relatively independent of each other meaning each server can be shut off and turned on independently of the remaining servers.
A practical example of this concept is to imagine a large hall with one powerful light bulb source of light. If that light bulb were to go off, the whole hall is turned into darkness till the light bulb is fixed. This represents the current monolithic kernel system the legacy Os uses, in which any process that crashes affects the whole system. The microkernel-based OS architecture is akin to a hall with many light bulbs. You can turn off a couple and still have light in the hall.
On the current developer build of BlackBerry 10, when an app crashes, the icon loses it’s color (nice effect actually) till it restarts in the background…when it’s done recovering, it regains it’s color. (Only the app restarts so the rest of the phone is usable and fluid). No idea if the greying effect will make it to commercial builds at launch though I hope it does.
So there you have it. BlackBerry 10 is designed not to hang and show black clocks.