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 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

  • BlackBerry 10 right-side bar

    Persistence is key

    One of the other major changes in BlackBerry 10 is the removal of any kind of messaging icons. (You may have wondered why the persistent bar at the bottom of the home screen does not have links to messaging features and email.)

    Instead, RIM has made emailing and messaging persistently accessible in a notifications display (pictured) to the right of the home screen, so as not to distract the user from what they were already doing. This side bar also displays social-networking updates from sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

    Bhardwaj said developers will be able to put alerts in the notifications bar through use of an API.

    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: