BlackBerry World is happening this week in Orlando, and RIM is desperately trying to convince us that the next big version of the OS will blow us away. That's a tall order given how far the BlackBerry has fallen from favor, and as CNET makes clear a nice onscreen keyboard is not going to do it. One feature spied in the information received from RIM could be just what the platform needs.
The user interface is very important on today's phones and tablets operated by touch. It is the difference between an "ah ha" moment for a user and a "meh" one. One of the best interface design decisions I have seen in years appeared on the short-lived HP TouchPad. The webOS base had a simple design feature integrated into the OS that made using it better than most other platforms.
That is the sliding pane feature that allows the user to display exactly how much on the screen as desired, and also what is displayed. You slide the panes of information left and right to expose/hide things as best makes sense.
It appears RIM has incorporated a similar functionality in BlackBerry 10 that has me excited about the potential. Look at the screen image above right of the new email app, and you see multiple windows of information in the process of being exposed/hidden. The information I have from RIM indicates this is the "Glance" feature being shown in the mail app.
This type of control is really handy on a device when switching from portrait to landscape orientation. It's a great way to optimize what can be displayed in each by simply swiping the panes left and right.
I hope that RIM implements this feature system-wide as it can revolutionize the user experience of a device with a small display. Better yet I hope it makes it easy to implement for developers building apps. This feature is important enough that it should permeate every aspect of using a new BlackBerry. Every app should take advantage of it, both RIM's and third party. That's the way it is in webOS and it is the way it should be in BlackBerry 10.
If properly implemented I predict this could be huge for BlackBerry 10 and allow it to stand apart from the other platforms. RIM has a potentially game-changing design improvement, so let's see it make the grade and be front and center in BlackBerry 10.