BlackBerry 10 hands on: Virtual keyboard and radical new UI

BlackBerry 10 hands on: Virtual keyboard and radical new UI

Summary: RIM's dramatically overhauled BlackBerry OS is betting on a new virtual keyboard with nifty word recognition to help it make a splash when it arrives later this year. But does it deliver on its promise?


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  • BlackBerry 10 keyboard delete

    Swiping down on the keypad at any time brings up numbers and symbols, and swiping up again returns you to the letters. Swiping left at any point deletes the word on screen (pictured).

    If typing on a touchscreen usually poses a challenge because you don't hit the letters square on, then RIM has accounted for that. Over time, it recognises where an individual user tends to hit each key — slightly to the left or right, for example — and adjusts to ensure that the intended keystroke is entered, via an unseen virtual keyboard behind the one on screen. This "almost second keyboard" will make mis-hit keys a thing of the past, Bhardwaj said.

    Image credit: Ben Woods/ZDNet

  • BlackBerry 10 home screen

    No place like home

    The new-look start screen that greets you when you switch on a BlackBerry 10 handset will be very familiar, as it looks like a cross between the Android and Windows Phone displays.

    It's no surprise that the user interface has had a radical overhaul, as RIM snapped up UI specialist The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) for that technology in 2010. Since the takeover, TAT has concentrated on RIM's tablet-focused PlayBook OS and BlackBerry 10, Bhardwaj confirmed to ZDNet UK.

    The default home screen (pictured) is used to show the last and most used apps, and constantly updates the most recently used in the top left-hand corner of the display. The tiles themselves are larger than mere icons and are similar to Windows Phone Mango's live tiles.

    Image credit: Ben Woods/ZDNet

  • BlackBerry 10 app list on left screen

    Scrolling to the left of the start screen brings up a list of apps (pictured), which looks like the lists seen on Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

    A persistent bar at the bottom of the display provides quick access to search, calling and camera functions.

    Although the screens were only running on demo hardware, response was good, with movement between the screens feeling natural and mostly intuitive.

    Image credit: Ben Woods/ZDNet

Topics: Mobility, Smartphones

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • The virtual keyboard and radical new UI are not the important facets here - it's the new development tools that will empower developers to rapidly release quality applications. Everything seems hardware accelerated and buttery smooth. Here is an example: