BlackBerry smartphones have always been known for their keyboards - no question about it. While RIM has dabbled with some full-touchscreen devices over the years, they have always stuck by their physical keyboard devices as well. With BlackBerry 10 that will still be the case. At launch, we'll see both full-touch and QWERTY model devices, so while many will be quick to stick with the physical keyboard they know and love, others will go all-in with a touchscreen device. I've never been a huge fan of touchscreen keyboards for numerous reasons, but with the amazing BlackBerry 10 keyboard we'll still get the BlackBerry experience we know and love, which is why the BlackBerry 10 keyboard is one of the features we're most looking forward to in BlackBerry 10.
The BlackBerry 10 Keyboard
The BlackBerry 10 touchscreen keyboard simply put is amazing. It looks to be the best touchscreen keyboard there is and we certainly can't argue with that. In addition to giving an awesome touchscreen typing experience, the keyboard also features predictive text, multiple languages, a custom word dictionary and much more.
Using the predictive text (word suggestion) on the BlackBerry 10 keyboard brings a whole new experience to typing. It's geared around the one-handed ease of use and allows you to simply swipe up the suggested words when typing. We've seen it in demos plenty of times now, and even using it on the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha we can't get enough. When it comes to one-handed typing it's by far the easiest way to get things done.
As you type the suggested words will appear over the next letter in the word (you can change this to have the words appear over the keyboard in columns). The idea is to keep your eyes locked on the keyboard as it's natural that you would look at the next letter as you type. From here you can either keep typing or simply swipe up if the suggested word is available. As you get to master this you can type out full conversations simply by swiping up the suggested words.
For example, when typing "Blac" the suggest word that appears over the K button is "BlackBerry" (obviously). Swipe up and your "Blac" is completed as "BlackBerry". Not what you wanted? Swipe right to left on the keyboard to delete a word. Keep swiping and you can delete everything you typed. All with one hand. Awesome.
We haven't seen nearly as much of the full-keyboard N-Series device as that of the touchscreen L-Series, but we do know a few things so far. The QWERTY model will bring that great physical keyboard experience to BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry always strives to have the best keyboard out there, and that should hold true in BlackBerry 10. The N-Series keyboard is an slightly updated version of the amazingly awesome Bold 9900 keyboard. The keys have been straightened out a bit (no more smiley) and some have been resized. While we don't know for sure that the new keyboard will be the "typing on air" that is the Bold 9900 keyboard, it should be pretty damn close. (Man, we still love the 9900 keyboard).
This model will also feature all that the touchscreen version has, but we're not 100% sure how the suggested word swiping will work just yet. More on that soon.
Both keyboards also have a bunch of features to customize to your liking. BB10 learns words based on your usage. So if you have a lot of words that wouldn't commonly be found in the dictionary (nicknames, curses, etc) then BB10 will learn them over time and offer them as suggested words. If it gets to be too much at times you do have the option to turn this feature off (but why would you want to?).
You can choose to enable or disable the predictive text, use word substitution and have options for auto-correct, auto-capitalize, period shortcut and more. The keyboard also lets you change languages without switching keyboards - just type in whatever supported language and the keyboard will recognize it. I'm also a big fan of the password entry keyboard (as we've seen on the PlayBook) that displays the number keys over the letters so you don't have to swap back and forth.
Overall the BlackBerry 10 keyboard will be an amazing feature that we can't wait to have in our hands.