BlackBerry 10: Best feature nobody's talking about

BlackBerry 10: Best feature nobody's talking about

Summary: RIM is showing off bits of the upcoming BlackBerry 10 in Orlando this week. Not much has been divulged but one thing I've spied has me really excited.


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.

Related: BlackBerry Dev Alpha device and BB World demos show RIM isn’t out of the game yet | RIM’s challenge: Platforms don’t sell, gadgets do | First look: BB 10

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.

Topics: BlackBerry, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Security

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  • Blackberry OS is dead. They really should give up now

    Blackberry OS is dead.. lol no matter what they try. People need more than "glance" . They need something that would pry them off their iPhones, crapdroids and WP7s :)
    • you should give up

      you should give up spreading lies about rim. your game is up apple.
  • unbelievable

    haters gonna hate, but the demos they gave yesterday at BB world are huge. BB10 will crush iOS if apple doesn't completely flip their OS around. The problem with RIM is just like this gentleman who posted prior to me exhibited. If Apple did all those cool things that RIM did yesterday, would he still call it lackluster?

    Doubt it.

    Perception is Apples advantage.
    • That may be, but...

      I'm not an iOS fan although I love apple, I believe RIM needs to wake up to the face that most people are comfortable with what they have and really bring something thats in a different shape (form factor.) to non-tech savvy people (the majority of phone buyers), they see almost all models of BBs as the same thing because they just won't change the form factor. I personally believe BBs are still the most stable devices out there but the crappy battery life, lack of apps and worst of all, the mentality of buyers, they need to change something fast. I believe apple is slowly morphing into RIM (as per their attitude to the iPhone)
      • Huh?

        What do you mean they "won't change the form factor"?

        Blackberrys are available in the traditional keyboard form, but there are also full-touch models and a slider. What other form factor should they be looking at?
    • True

      RIM and other mobiles need to hire a team of experts to deprogrammed apple cult followers.
      • Wow

        How insightful.

    • apples shares

      the thing is too many americans are hung up with apple shares going to 1000 story, if rim makes a comeback poof that dream disappears. hence you find this denial about bb 10.
  • Execution

    It is all about execution. RIM execs must tell us about what's coming, but that doesn't sell any devices. Getting the product out the door and making it something that does what people want, at a price they want, and hopefully something that differntiates itself in a significant way. UI is part of that. Integration with Existing Blackberry messaging, BlackBerry Enterprise Services, etc... can do that but only if the final product arrives SOON. Unfortunately, I fear RIM is going to be too little too late.
    • Agreed

      Yes, execution needs to be sharp if RIM has any hope of recovering. Fortunately, that seems to have improved considerably.

      From my perspective, RIM's biggest target right now is the developer market, and rightly so. If they don't have an attractive app portfolio when BB10 launches, they're dead in the water. Even as a RIM fanboy I can see that.
      • QNX has compatibility with Android apps .. all 500,000 of them

        Yes (I believe) they have to be re-compiled to run on a BB device with a qnx OS, but that does offer some relief to almost nothing at all ...
    • But doing it right is most important...

      Rushing it out with problems is exactly what they don't want to do.
  • Good Idea

    The iOS Twitter app has something similar. (I'm not saying they were the first to do these staircase panels.) Could we see this as a developer-available Cocoa Touch gui widget in iOS 6?

    If not, and Blackberry's interface works out well, perhaps in iOS 7?
    • Re. Good Idea

      I like this feature on the iOS Twitter app and it's a smart move for RIM to have it for any app where a user may want to quickly jump between 2 or more pages.
  • What is RIM's Thing?

    RIM needs to decide what their 'thing' is going to be. Apple's thing is simplicity, integration and design elegance. Android's thing is wide openness. RIM's thing used to be bulletproof security, and maybe it still can be...

    Neat UI tricks are great, but they alone do not a brand make. RIM needs a serious, significant brand differentiator if they are going to regain traction against Android and Apple. So, here's an idea for RIM. It's a way they can deliver both superior performance/ battery life AND best in class security.

    RIM could do three things with their devices that would significantly differentiate them from Apple and Android while delivering real value to a broad customer base. Thing no. one: Make all RIM devices connect via VPN and only VPN through, and only through RIM servers. Thing no. two: Split all App functionality between devices and RIM servers such that the 'user instance' resides at RIM where there is on-going security monitoring, automatic App updating, etc. all without user intervention required. Thing no. three: Pre-fetch, pre-render, optimally compress content on RIM servers prior to delivery (over VPN) to RIM devices - something like Amazon does for web content on K-Fire.

    This approach, while surely not the only thing RIM might do, would differentiate their devices in truly meaningful ways. Specifically, it would give RIM devices an entirely different class of security. It would offer performance improvements due to pre-fetch, pre-render, and server-class compute power and storage for Apps. It would allow significantly less storage on the device, slower processors, longer battery life, and potentially lower device manufacturing costs for RIM.
    • Eight Cores for RIM ?

      Nearly 30 years ago, ARM was born to make the foundation of Supercomputers: adding CPU Cores you should have been able to increase the power of your device. Let's imagine then what happens if RIM (with QNX Power) makes a quad-core tablet and a quad-core smartphone and they link the two CPUs together: you could walk with a quad-core smartphone and at home/work get an eight-core (or more, linking more together) Personal Computer... IMAGINE!
  • Too little, too late

    RIM carved out a niche as "the businessman's (and businesswoman's) smart phone." It had the features business buyers thought were important. Apple has always been about an amazing user experience and ease of use. And this is where RIM sucks. BB's text-intensive user interfaces look like they were designed by programmers who started with DOS and kinda figured it out as they went along. Even when BB added a touch screen, it was like a rudimentary afterthought, like making a DOS app clickable and not just cursor-key and Alt-key navigable. Apple's iOS looks and feels like it was designed and well thought out for a graphic user interface.

    I find BB also to be complex, and this is coming from an IT consultant. It's not that it's "beyond me." It's that it's well beyond the complexity I want to see in a phone, calendar, task list, notepad, email and texting.

    In my view, Apple's user experience is just so much more attractive and easy to learn and use than BB. I have an aging Treo 650 smart phone and am overdue for an upgrade. The only reason I'd consider BB is because they have a real keyboard, though not as nice (to me) as my ancient Treo. iPhone has everything else going for it: ease of use, great user interface and user experience...but no real keyboard :-( My next phone will likely be an iPhone 5. Reluctantly.

    The reality is that BB is losing its existing customers and having a hard time getting new ones. It even has a hard time attracting folks who want a keyboard, and have almost nowhere else to go. Playbook was supposed to "rescue" RIM. Now it's BB 10 that's supposed to do that job. Good luck, RIM.
    • Windows Phone

      The Windows Phone is actually easier to use and more capable than the iOS. Give it a look, especially if you use it mainly as a business phone.
    • Agreed!

      I agree, but one thing you miss is power-user friendliness.

      When I used BB I LOVED IT!! (this was before switching to iPhone in Mar 08)

      And the reason I loved BB is, even though it was somewhat rudimentary in text, and the browser was as bare-bones as it could get, I got things done FAST! Email was always there, and the hardware qwerty keyboard is something I STILL MISS!

      But once you knew your way around BB OS, you never had to use the directional or selector buttons, you could use "hot keys" on the keyboard to INSTANTLY bounce between messaging, email, browser, contacts, calendar, and notes.

      While today I love my iPhone and it's VERY well thought out design, I don't get to my raw data as quickly, nor can I manipulate or input it as quickly, as I could with my circa 2007 BlackBerry. iOS is a beautiful thing to use, and is so intuitive you can pick it right up, and it does everything in an extraordinarily well designed way....I'm not quite as productive when it comes down to the nitty gritty.
    • apple's ios is becoming boring

      ios is in fact becoming boring and outdated. so 2007ish.