One of the highlights of today's BlackBerry World keynote was RIM's take on the touchscreen keyboard, complete with word prediction, the ability to automatically personalize key targets for "fat thumb" syndrome, and even (as TechCrunch reports) personal language analysis for better predictions. Those are all features that sound like SwiftKey to our minds, a hint borne out by the fact that CrackBerry discovered that the PlayBook's text prediction algorithm returns the names of SwiftKey executives. At any rate, the keyboard looks great for power users, but we all know "real" BlackBerry power users prefer physical keyboards. Fortunately, during the keynote CEO Thorsten Heins was fairly clear that there would be BB10 devices with physical keyboards, and a RIM spokesperson confirmed the same to Phone Scoop today. The first BlackBerry 10 device is likely to be an all-touchscreen affair, but devices with physical keyboards will follow.
That's good news for die-hard BlackBerry keyboard fans, but Heins also made note of another thing: RIM is going to try to find a way to bring the word prediction technology built into BB10's software keyboard to physical keyboard devices. How that will work is obviously unclear as of this moment — RIM's current method of swiping up from a key to select the next word obviously won't work on a physical keyboard.
While we have a pretty good idea of the rough outlines of BlackBerry 10 after today's announcements, specific implementation details like this won't be known until RIM shows them more directly. There's plenty more to learn between now and the launch later this year.