Active Frames

The BlackBerry OS never really had any "widgets" aside from a few third-party apps, but BlackBerry 10 will be giving us Active Frames. Don't call them widgets. Don't call them live tiles. Active Frames are different from both and are unique to BB10.

Essentially, Active Frames are minimized versions of open and running applications that have their own panel on the home screen, displayed to the user as a 'mini version' of an app (set by the developer). For instance, in the native calendar and weather apps, you will see your appointments and today's weather, rather than just a smaller full-screen view. This is an important difference compared to the treatment of minimized apps on the BlackBerry PlayBook OS, which were just sized-down versions of the full app. That said, if a developer does not specify an Active Frame view, it will display as the full app shrunk down.

You can have up to eight open Active Frames on your home screen, and the order is display by the most recently accessed application, contributing to that "always in" feeling of BlackBerry 10 (maybe one day we'll also see the ability to pin an Active Frame too). 

Active Frames come in handy in that you always have quick access to the apps you are using. Say you have the browser, calendar, BBM and Twitter open -- you won't have to search around for the icon to open the app, it's just there. You'll also be able to see updates quickly. Take BBM for example. BBM on BlackBerry 10 already shows your latest updates - be it a photo, contact status update or what have you. Same goes for the calendar - you get a quick look at your upcoming appointments without having to open the app itself. 

For the start, Active Frames on BB10 will be awesome. Maybe down the line we'll see InterActive Frames which would be even awesomer, but for now we're plenty happy with the way things are. In mobile today, be it Android, iOS, Windows Phone or even the legacy BlackBerry OS, most of the time the homescreen experience is fixed in the sense that people customize the layout of it (whether it's just icons and folders, or widgets or live tiles). With Active Frames, this portion of the homescreen experience is always changing as you use the phone. It's a fundamental difference, and we think a powerful one. As you use BlackBerry 10, you'll find the app you want to jump into is always going to be right there, at your finger tip in the Active Frame screen. And tapping on Active Frame instantly takes you into that app experience (it's already open afterall). The speed and process of Active Frames saves you seconds everytime you use the phone, and we love that.

Check out more features we're looking forward to in our 10 Weeks of BlackBerry 10 series .