A few notes on the future of the Blackberry

Blackberry have launched the Z10, their first device running Blackberry 10, an all new operating system which will directly compete with the likes of iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. It has virtually no relation to previous Blackberry software which is famously clunky and unintuitive. The reviews aren’t amazing, but they all agree that the new software shows promise.

The Verge on the multitasking focussed home screen:

The “center” of the phone is a unique take on the homescreen, a page representing your currently running applications (up to eight only) in a grid of large, rectangular icons. Those icons sometimes do double duty as widgets, switching over to glanceable information (like the current weather) once you minimize the application.

Sadly, it seems that while multitasking is a key part of any operating system, having it front and centre is the wrong way to go. Applications and widgets are never pinned to the home screen, you are forced to relaunch an app if you want it to remain at the top of the list.

Engadget on gestures and the Blackberry Hub:

It’s heavily gesture-based, with a swipe up from the bottom bezel bringing you to the main interface, where you can select between up to eight concurrently running apps for multi-tasking.

The most important gesture, however, is swiping up and to the right. This exposes the BlackBerry Hub, which aggregates all your forms of connectivity into a single, overpowering list.

These gestures are nice, I love swiping around a touch interface, which is something iOS does really poorly, or not at all. Sadly, when watching videos of BB10 in use, it does seem to lack intuitiveness. It looks as clunky as past Blackberrys. This is the case around the whole system. While it’s fast, gestures and actions don’t look for feel natural, especially a swipe from the bottom of the screen to quit an app, something that most of us do naturally when scrolling.

The Blackberry hub is an interesting take on Notifications. It feels like a separate application, a perfectly good social aggregator, but not a ‘notification centre’.

Crackberry, the Blackberry equivalent to 9to5mac, are of course biased towards the device, but understand that this is very much a ‘first device’:

The BlackBerry Z10 had to come out of the gates as a solid first device, and it is. It’s the BlackBerry experience we love, taken to a whole new level. Is it perfect? Not yet. But BlackBerry 10 in a not-quite-yet-perfect state is still light years ahead of the BlackBerry devices we have been using and loving for years.

Sure, it’s “light years ahead” of older Blackberry’s, but a brick is two light years ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing sales figures, and see if people actually go for this very new device. It’s very much Windows Phone 7 all over again. Innovative, but primitive. Blackberry 11 will be the exciting one.