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BlackBerry 7 bringing an updated virtual keyboard to the BlackBerry Torch

Torch keyboard comparison
By Michelle Haag on 17 Jul 2011 04:08 pm EDT
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Image by UrbanGlowCam

As Joseph pointed out not long ago, the virtual keyboard on the BlackBerry PlayBook is a little harder for some people to get accustomed to using, in part due to a different layout than that of the BlackBerry Torch/Storm virtual keyboard. As seen in a picture posted in the forums, the virtual keyboard of the Torch 2 9810 (and presumably the Torch 9850/60) will be getting an update with BB7, and will now look a lot more like that of the PlayBook.

What's your opinion on the change? If you're a current user of the on-screen keyboard, will this totally throw off your typing, or is it a welcome adjustment? If you don't currently use it, will the change encourage you to give it another try? Let us know in the comments.

Michelle Haag Michelle Haag "@_Miche11e_ and C0001B3B5" 1199 (articles) 1687 (forum posts)

Reader comments

BlackBerry 7 bringing an updated virtual keyboard to the BlackBerry Torch

72 Comments

In all honesty, I rarely use the virtual keyboard; especially in portrait mode. Why waste the real estate when you've got a perfectly good physical keyboard?

That being said, it looks good for Storm or Torch 9850/60 users not blessed with the physical keyboard.

Are we running out of blog post ideas? lol This was visible in all the previous device simulator leaks. The new keyboard looks better by the way.

Exactly. I had no idea there was a change in the virtual keyboard layout. With that said, I think it looks better this way. I'd like to try it out though.

I think part of the reason why so many BB users found it tough to transition to the touch screen models was simply due to the lack of familiarity with the rest of the BB brethren.

If the Storm series and Torch virtual keyboards were designed in ways to appear the same way as your favorite physical keyboards, SurePress and the all touch experience would have been far more embraced and accepted.

What do you think?

not only did I need it, I always found myself hitting it when using the space bar. Good riddens.

Yes I know what u guys mean I always hated that language button sometimes I find myself changing la guage everytime I use the virtual keyboard and it is annoying.. I would like to try how the new keyboard works when I get the chance to

I prefer the new style. If an update comes out for the Torch 9800 I'll be thrilled. Whenever I switch back and forth between my Android and my Torch, I always mess myself up with the typing because I'm used to the Android keyboard. The new torch keyboard is similar with Android's so it would be an easy adjustment for me :D

I do enjoy the color contrast alot more, that is a welcome change... Now if only the Playbook would use an auto-complete database similar to the Torch/Storm. That would solve TONS of headaches I have when typing on my Playbook.

The buttons are noticeably smaller height wise. That won't affect anyone?

I like the bar to close the keyboard but is it really that necessary?

The colour contrast between the main keys are good and I like that the enter key is a little bigger and out of that spot.

I personally love the Compact QWERTY keyboard in favor of the classic view. I feel the Auto Correct catches/fixes mistake better in my personal opinion.

Playbook just needs to come with the Auto Correct dicitionary. I am happy that it at least detects mispelled words.

A welcome change! The thing that frustrates me most about the 9800 virtual keyboard is that the period and comma are on separate screens. Not a big deal if texting or messaging, but a real pita if composing emails (or commenting on a post) where a more formal writing style is dictated.

I like that it is a much cleaner look, overall. I have a playbook, and I enjoy the typing experience (save for the lack of autocorrect).

As a storm series owner I don't think I could live without the reduced keyboard and SureType. Anyone know if the new torch touch will have it?

well, I do agree with you. I´ve been using the suretype and compact of my old storm2 and it was the fastest keyboard on earth for me. Same happened before with the old pearl flip. After that, I have never typed that fast, impossible with all the androids I have used later, even using the same layout as they don´t have the fantastic BB predictive engine.

considering to get back to BB if that compact of the torch is as fast as my storm2 was.

I don't use the virtual keyboard but I have to say that new one is looking much, much better. The enter is where is should be, the contract is excellent, glad to see the comma, period and question mark there on the main screen.

I'm surprised that you were the first to mention these points. They are by far the best. The worst part of the virtual keyboards seems to have been fixed and you nailed each point. Having the comma, period, and question mark keys on the main screen is a must. If I need to change language, which I do about 5 times a week, I would prefer to go into the menu to change it. The contrast is just icing.

I'm amused by the addition of the arrow under the text field signifying that you can swipe the keyboard down. I remember accidentally discovering that feature and falling in love with it ever since. I doubt too many people know about it.

Agreed. The arrow is much better then having to go through the menu system to close the keyboard.

N4BB posted this awhile ago, I do like the new keyboard but I rarely use it..Its more like the Playbook so its a step towards unifying the OS of the Playbook and the BlackBerry OS..

Yeah, except for the PlayBook not having the question mark on the main screen and not having the swipe from top to bottom, it is just like it. At least we can swipe diagonally from the bottom left to top right on he PlayBook.

I just wish that RIM would upgrade the camera... Please!!
Nokias are already rocking the 12megapixel... 5 isn't enough!!!:(
Come on!!
We're almost in 2012!!... :/

Pixel Density is more of a marketing feature then anything. Huge Megapixels on a tiny sensor = crappy pics

I really don't think I could tell the difference between an 8 megapixel and a 5 megapixel picture. Frankly, even high end printers can't capture that stuff and the limitation will be the display. I had a palm pre with the horrible 2 megapixel and when I got my Bold I loved the 3.2 megapixel. There is a difference at the lower level but after 5 megapixel it becomes increasingly less relevant.
I for one think it is wise for RIMM to focus on the processor speed. I currently have a Torch and love it but I still do get the little time/thinking sign.
I can't wait to get the new upgrades and with a faster processor I hope the time between the click and the image capture decreases. That would make for better pictures. Still, you may have a point but I'm not a professional photographer. If I was, I would carry a full on camera with lenses.

A positive step: the vertical spacing between the keys is increased. I hope
and pray that this will be done for S2 and its descendants, especially for
the landscape view - I would go further and increase the spacing of the
bottom row that contains the &&$##@ space key. Doctor Neutron

I miss the old storm keyboard look.... The black background and black buttons, with the blue flash.... I only could wish they would put that back on there, but hey thats my opinion

After 8mp you can't tell the difference anymore with tje human eye and really you only need a max dpi of 300. Like what was said mega pixels are a marketing plow. Past 8 and no one can see the difference.

Does this mean that they have also swapped round the alt and number key on the physical keyboard of the 9810 too? I guess it makes sense in the long run, after all, everyone already types on QWERTY keyboards with the shift button being in line with the bottom row of letters.

thanks, I did not know there was that option. Very little success for the torch here in the south of Europe so no chance to check it with anyone around. But having the suretype compact is the only way to reply fast due to the bigger buttons.

Well, it looks like we won't be getting any choice of keyboard on the PlayBook by the looks of this.

The virtual keyboard should be consistent with the physical keyboard.... now when you try to flip between virtual and physical.. you have to switch your technique while typing.

+1

Hate going to and from 9700 and PlayBook. Had been hoping that RIM would issue an update to make the layout consistent with physical keyboards, but I guess that's not going to happen.

i like the new keyboard. color contrast is a big plus and the similarity with the playbook is welcome.

I've stuck with BB in part because when they make changes, dramatic or not, I find it easy to transition. I'll try nearly any new ideas on other devices such as laptops and desktops, but I don't like to with my phone. Its a tool I need to be at one with.

I've stuck with BB in part because when they make changes, dramatic or not, I find it easy to transition. I'll try nearly any new ideas on other devices such as laptops and desktops, but I don't like to with my phone. Its a tool I need to be at one with.

I absolutely detest the virtual keyboard in the current Torch will hate it as well in the new phones if I can't have the decimal point in the same field as the numbers.

Inputting numbers using the virtual keyboard is so annoying considering you have to switch modes constantly if you want to put a decimal value in.

"Use the physical keypad", you say? Sure, maybe, but how will that solution apply on the all touch BB? I've asked around and so far, I haven't received an answer as a work around this issue.

As long as they keep SureType, I don't care. I can type so fast and with one thumb with suretype. I know most people hate it, but I love it.

I have never used a physical keyboard on a blackberry for more than 5 minutes total(Storm user) so the virtual keyboard means a lot. What I want is an easy way(on the original screen to use the period, comma, question mark, exclamation point and apostrophe. The following should be on the same screen by pressing the symbol button ONCE: " $ % * # : ; + - / = _

The ability to use multitouch functionality to allow holding the number button or symbol button and tapping the symbol/number like in the physical keyboards would be GREAT.

It might be cool if RIM allowed customization of the virtual keyboard.

Its a step in the right direction, but I think I could do a better job if they consulted any 3-year storm user on the subject.

Yeah, the decimal point MUST be on the same screen as the numbers.

The virtual keyboard should aim to be very close to the physical keyboard because thats one thing 99% of bb users like about blackberry. Competing with the tactile feedback and feeling of the keys is tough but some of us want the larger screen. I, for one, use the keyboard in landscape all the time, because the portrait one isn't good enough.

A worthwhile discussion...

I like the fact that the period (decimal point) remains on the main keyboard layout.

My Storm keyboard layout was okay, but I found I didn't need two sym keys or two shift keys. On of each on the left side was sufficient. Most annoying is the fact that there is no decimal point or period key when in numeric mode.

Wish I could see the numeric and symbols modes, but I think the BB7 keyboard is moving in the right direction. I would have changed the ? key for a sym key, where I can get plenty of more special keys!

Unlike chiefbroski, I use my Storm keyboard in portrait mode since my thumbs don't have to travel far, I can type at a more rapid pace; otherwise, I agree with his other comments.

I just know that I will miss the SurePress keyboard! Yes, really! Typing on glass just doesn't have that tactile feel. Worse, the 9850/9860 (how I hate those numbers, but I can't say "Torch" or folks will think I mean the 9810 or 9800) comes with four physical buttons that you MUST press down to activate, whereas the screen keyboard does not subscribe to that same philosophy.

Haven't you noticed that RIM has added the touch pad on all their touch devices? That's because you can no longer select something without executing it. I can't select an app icon, for example. If I tap it, it will execute. With the Storm, I can tap it to select it, or press the screen in to run the app. Now, with BB6 & BB7 devices, you must either use the touchpad or tap and hold until the menu comes up to select an icon.

I miss SurePress so much. I think I'm going to do surgery to my Torch and Storm2 and try to find the happy medium.

great post. this is not out of ideas posting but a very good knowledge base. its is somehow sad to see when some are so negative about people sharing their find outs and knowledge.

Keep up the good posts, I for one support it.

I rarely ever use the virtual keyboard on the Torch but obviously use the virtual keyboard on the PlayBook all the time. I'm OK with the placement of the two keys but the PlayBook has the globe symbol instead of the question mark (actually the ? makes a lot more sense to me).

The one thing I hope they do NOT carry over is the fact that the 123sym key on the PlayBook locks. This makes a lot of sense if the next key is a number or even the plus, minus, times, octothorp ("#"), divide and equal keys but its REALLY annoying that it locks when you want to access the punctuation keys ( ? ! ' " $ _ @ ). On the PlayBook, if you want to put a quote, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation mark, etc in your sentence, you need to press the 123sym key then press the punctuation mark and then the 123sym key again to get the regular keyboard back. The best solution in my mind is to "lock" the 123sym key only if the following key is a numeric key. If its a punctuation key, revert to normal just like the shift key works. You could also override this by holding the 123sym key for an extended period just like the shift key locks if you hold it. I hope they fix this for both the OS6/OS7 and PlayBook although I strongly doubt that I'll pick up an OS7 device as I'm content to wait for the QNX phones as I'm OK with the speed of the Torch since I use the PlayBook for most things these days anyway.

So does the 9850 keyboard have some sort of haptic feedback or something? I haven't been able to find the answer to that...

What is the globe symbol on the 9800? I don't have that symbol on my Torch when I go to create a new text message...

As someone posted earlier, I think it's a "change languages" button. I assume for those with more than one language loaded on the phone. I have only english, so in the spot with the globe, I only have another "sym" key.

Personally, I use the suretype layout too. Much easier for me in portrait mode since I had used a Pearl for over 3 years prior to getting my Torch. Full layout for the virtual keyboard is just too cramped (I have to say, it's the one thing that the iPhone does better even though it's screen is only slightly wider than the Torch's - don't know if it's because of the iPhone's offset layout of a real keyboard or not).

What I don't like - and wonder if this has been changed or not - is that in suretype mode when inputting passwords, the layout changes to a "T9" layout. Very aggravating as I get confused with that layout, and can't keep track of tapping out up to 3 or 4 letters in a password - and in "ABC" layout as opposed to the "QWERTY" layout. It was much easier just knowing that it switches to "multi-tap" mode in the Pearl with only up to 2 taps but still in "QWERTY".

Looks great, but I am worried about the no globe thing. Does anyone know it the Playbook, or maybe OS7, supports Cyrillic Russian input yet.

I really hope this new virtual keyboard will be available in future OS updates for the Torch 9800. Looks so much better than the current one.

I don't like their first virtual keyboard layout design hard to tap because letters are stick to each other. If they could make one just like Galaxy S 2 that would be even better than their new layout. Well, still looks great tho! GJ

Also I'm wondering if replacing 9800's net_rim_bb_virtual_keyboard.cod with 9810 to make it look and function the same. :)

I own the Storm2 and love it. That being said, it is my 1st smart phone. I love the BB design and hate the "strictly apple" concept of iOS. I have gotten used to suretype, but notice that other OS's don't need the "clicky screen". I haven't used any other smart phones but have a lot of friends with Apple phones and have noticed the ease of just finger tip typing. I don't know if this comes with a real learning auto correct dictionary or not, that aside....I love my BB and am not about to be a committed apple phone/music/word processing/picture/video guy. C'mon RIM... I say let 'em have it.... Damn it, you're a year behind EVERYONE else. You have had the capability to run with the "new leaders" for quite a while... MAKE IT HAPPEN! Yeah, yeah... 2012... LATE in the year... just sayin' ... BB fanboy

I run both a Storm and a Torch, and I have to say the new keyboard appears much better and is more relative to a physical one, with the shift buttons presence. The addition of the 'full stop' (period) with its' own button is a welcome addition, as opposed to holding down the space bar when in numeric mode.
All in all, very impressed.

I have to say that I do like that they took out the language icon on the keyboard. It raelly annoyed me at first. My thumbs are big and when i tried using the touch keyboard on my Torch when i first got it i got annoyed when i constantly kept accidently pressing the language icon and selecting "chinese" or "mandarin" lol. Love all any any news on the new Torch, though I am very perplexed with when I an gonna get the new Torch because I wont be able to qualify for the upgrade through bell.

i hate to use virtual keyboards, i had a nokia n900, that's the only touch screen keyboard i made an exception for, i wont be going back to touch though, even if i have a touch screen device, i'll use the physical keyboard once it's available.

i use the virtual keyboard all the time and im loving it. took some getting use to the fact that the caps and num have been switched around but i quickly relearn it seeing how i never type with my phone anymore LOL. The comma on the main page and not having to 'ALT' it in is a great plus.

I hate having to press the Number key twice on my Playbook to enter a symbol like a quote ('), which I do much more often than numbers. On my Torch, simply holding the Number key for two seconds and it locks in number mode if you so wish to enter numbers. Why have the Number key function differently than the cap lock key?

i use my virtual keyboard quite a lot on my torch & i happen to love the way it looks. New one not so much, i like the idea of the color blue for letter & grey for rest but other then that i hate it, i do not like the square look to the keys or the way they have changed it around. But im happy as this makes me sure im going to go back physical qwerty when i eventually get an upgrade :)

excellent update!! wish they can change it in OS6 too for 9800 or etter make an official OS7 available for torch 9800

NO I dont like it its to much like the iphone and android, c'mon rim abit more unique yeah?
i'm a torch user

As a S3 and prior to that a Pearl user, I just want to have the option of turning on SureType for portrait mode. I like SurePress but think I can go without that easier than SureType the bigger buttons make it possible to type one handed on a touchscreen.. Also I switch to landscape mode whenever I have to enter a password.