BlackBerry 10 Hands-on: Swipe Gestures, Predictive Keyboard, Photo Time-Shifting Preview
The new BlackBerry 10 operating system showcased at BlackBerry World earlier this month marks a clear change in the BlackBerry experience. Flow, Connect, Extend. That’s what BlackBerry 10 is all about, according to VP Developer Relations, Alec Saunders. So how does BlackBerry 10 flow, connect and extend? Here’s an in-depth, preview of this new BlackBerry operating system:
UI: Designed for you and I
Some may say it’s simple like iOS, others say it’s like Windows 7 with those tiles. Others saying it’s clearly like WebOS with the flowing panes. If that’s the case, it’s not like any of them. Sure, it’s got the ubiquitous grid of icons, the small connectivity icons at the top, but that’s where the similarities end. It fits in perfectly with the BlackBerry look-and-feel: sharp, subtle, professional, and efficient.
One of the main panes of BlackBerry 10 is what you would expect from a modern operating system: the standard grid of icons. We’ve seen this before. Swiping to the left gives you a view of the multi-tasking pane, which shows four large tiles of apps that are currently running. Another swipe to the right and you’ll see a super-inbox, filled with your email, BBMs, LinkedIn, text messages, Twitter, Facebook, and much more all in one place.
Navigation in BlackBerry 10 is done through gestures, much like the BlackBerry PlayBook. This time, however, you can access your inbox anytime by using gestures. Swiping from the bottom right of the phone onto the screen gives you a “peek” into your inbox. This type of gesture was coined by Vivek Bhardwaj as a “looking type gesture”. As you move your finger to the left, more and more information is displayed. The size of the “peek” follows your finger exactly, giving you a powerful feeling of control over the OS.
The bottom bar comes with three software buttons: call, search, and camera. This gives you three very popular selections in an accessible location. These three software keys at the bottom also change depending on the context of the pane that’s open.
From the inbox, you can do everything you would normally expect to do: open e-mails, view PDF attachments, and check Facebook messages, all without the unnecessary transitions and closing/re-opening of an app. This is by far to more efficient and the fastest way to check messages on any platform, which kind of makes you wonder why anyone else hasn’t thought of this before? Closing an app, and opening up a messages app just to check messages seems like a waste of time now.
In Android/iOS, you type keyboard. In BlackBerry, keyboard types you!
The virtual keyboard has been completely revamped. RIM has been working on replicating the superior typing experience from their QWERTY offerings to a virtual keyboard in BlackBerry 10. The fretted keys we’ve become familiar with from previous QWERTY BlackBerry smartphones are here. The keys are dark and subtle. What you’ll notice right away as you type are suggested words hovering above certain letters which try to predict what you want to say. To quickly write a successfully predicted word, you swipe upwards from the key. This action types out the word for you. This feature is so great it has already been copied from third-party iPhone app developers.
In an area that seems to have no room for innovation, RIM seems to have found a way to make touch screen typing that much easier. Mr. Bhardwaj has explained that the speed and accuracy of the virtual keyboard has also been a priority for RIM. The latency of the input has been reduced. The keyboard now actually learns how you type. As you type, the keyboard is constantly tracking where exactly you press each letter. By adapting to your typing style, you’ll get fewer typos from the keyboard. In addition, the keyboard will actually scour the words you use in your texts, e-mails and pretty much anything else you type, to better understand and predict what you will type in the future. Genius.
Time-shift…because you blinked in that last picture
Another one of the highlighted features is the Camera. Yes, yes, it takes pictures. But it takes a quick series of photos when you press the trigger. Nothing special. Many android phones, windows PCs, and even Nikon cameras can do this, called “Burst mode”. But the implementation makes all the difference. After taking a picture, you can tap on a section of the image, and “move” it forwards or backwards in time. Just drag your finger clockwise or anti-clockwise around the section of the image and you can instantly change your image for the better. The ease of using it and the accuracy of the software sets it apart from the pack.
These features are of course still in the refining process and are not present on the Developer BlackBerry 10 Alpha device. You can count on these features to be present in the first BlackBerry 10 device to be released later this year. Are you excited for the release a BlackBerry 10 device? Let us know what your favourite feature is and any other features you’d like to see in BlackBerry 10 with a comment below!