BlackBerry 10

RIM killed itself and reemerged as BlackBerry — good luck saving the company by changing your name… Anyways, the BlackBerry 10 OS is out on the new Z10. The hardware looks nice, the OS looks nice. Keyword being “nice”.

Khoi Vinh upon seeing the interface and its me-too attitude:

In fact, they demonstrate a startling lack of character, almost a willful desire to be mistaken for any other random operating system.

To my eye BB10 looks like a bad clone of Android, which in itself is an OS that I view as a decent-but-getting-better clone of iOS. That’s to say: BB10 is a copy of a copy.1

BGR has a review up of the device and the OS, here. I didn’t read much of the review, I did look at the photos, but the section I read was on the keyboard.

Jonathan S. Geller thinks the BB10 keyboard is “borderline great”. I’m not sure why, but he does mention the predictive text method:

For example, if I wanted to type “Good to meet you,” I would type the word good, and then on the keyboard over the letter T would be the word “to.” You can slide your finger up on the letter to accept a predicted word, so sliding up on the letter T would have entered good “to.” Then on the letter M the word “meet” is positioned above it, so sliding up would accept that, and finally on the letter Y would be the word “you.” Slide up again and you’ve typed a sentence with one hand by only really typing one word.

That sounds like a mess and his photo of that “feature” in action shows just how messy it is to learn (more on this is bit).

Predictive text on mobile devices is huge. Android shows the text directly above the keyboard — something I have always found cumbersome to use — while iOS shows predictive text below the word as you type (you just hit space to accept it). The trade offs of those two methods are:

  • On Android it’s less fluid to select a predicted word, but you get a few options.
  • On iOS you only get one option at a time to select, but it’s fluid to select that option.

There’s good and bad to both systems. On BB10 the words aren’t even going to appear in the same spot each time. So instead of just knowing where to look (at the words you type on iOS, and at the top of keyboard on Android), you have to look all around the keyboard.

I haven’t used it, so I can’t say for sure, but this sounds like a clusterfuck. It’s a predictive text function that looks good in demos, but long-term I don’t think it will be as good as Android or iOS. I certainly want to try it, but I’m not holding my breath.

The hitch with the BB10 system is the slide motion to the word. If you just tapped the word, that’d be neat, as it sits above the next letter you naturally would go to for the word, but having to pause your typing to slide up seems cumbersome at best. Now in the example from BGR, it sounds clever to only tap out one word and then complete the rest of the sentence with gestures, but I’m not sure that is practical in a day-to-day situation.

For example, on my iPhone, I can tap out a text message with 80% accuracy without looking. That’s not something you could do with BB10 because you would have to find the letter, stop and slide, then go to the next — the only reason I am that accurate on iOS is because of the predictive text fluidity. Don’t discount how important the software keyboard is — it’s a huge part of the OS.

Beyond that I haven’t much else to say until I actually play with a Z10. Speaking of that, are there BlackBerry stores somewhere?


  1. And the Z10 is a copy of Android’s copy of the iPhone 5. [Man am I going to get email.] 

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Article Details

Published
by Ben Brooks
3 minutes to read.


tl;dr

RIM killed itself and reemerged as BlackBerry — good luck saving the company by changing your name… Anyways, the BlackBerry 10 OS is out on the new Z10. The hardware looks nice, the OS looks nice. Keyword being “nice”. Khoi Vinh upon seeing the interface and its me-too attitude: In fact, they demonstrate a startling […]