BlackBerry Peek software problems? Nah, the Dev Alpha B casing just gets in the way a little

Nothing to see here folks...
By Kevin Michaluk on 25 Sep 2012 10:27 pm EDT

Today a whole bunch of videos hit the internet showing off the BlackBerry Dev Alpha B hardware running BlackBerry 10. In many of these videos, including our CrackBerry hands-on as well as the on-stage keynote demo, it appeared in some instances that the upward swiping motion often took more than one try to execute properly.

Catching up on tweets, forum posts, article comments and emails, it seems many people are taking this repeated observation to mean that it's a sign of the BlackBerry 10 software still being in beta and not quite polished and ready for prime time yet. Heck, one journalist even asked RIM CEO Thorsten Heins about this apparent issue with peek during today's executive Q&A. It's an understandable conclusion to come to based on the observation, but it's not the truth at all.

In reality, to blame for this need for an occassional extra swipe is the casing on the Dev Alpha B. With the Dev Alpha B RIM wrapped the display with a bulky shell, which as you can see in the photo above actually covers part of the bottom of the display, almost giving it a chin. The location of this casing kind of blocks the natural position of the thumb when it comes to making that swipe up gesture.

Having played with the actual BlackBerry hardware and also updating my Dev Alpha with today's released BB10 Developer build, this issue doesn't exist at all. Talking to a couple of the people providing Dev Alpha demos for RIM, they confirmed this was there take on it as well. It's really just a matter of the Dev Alpha B casing being a little in the way.

A chunky case around something a little more sleek? 

When you look at the Dev Alpha B, especially with the battery door off as pictured above, you really get a sense that the Dev Alpha B has a little more to it than meets the eye. Think about it. RIM is building a new BlackBerry 10 phone to hit the market in the new year. That hardware has to be very far along at this point. They ran out of Dev Alphas and needed to get more to hand out.

It wouldn't make sense to design a brand new updated Dev Alpha device. Instead, you take the parts you're already working on (the chassis and guts from the real deal) and you wrap it in a bulky and chunky shell, make it next to impossible to take apart, and you give that out instead. It's the easiest, cheapest and most efficient way to get a second series of Dev Alphas out there. Look at that photo. You can almost see a round-cornered frame tucked within a square casing. And on the front side of the phone, the casing almost looks literally like a case tucking tight to the display. Looking at the device and thinking about the notion of a Dev Alpha B, this just makes logical sense. That said, I don't think any devs will want to attempt ripping their Dev Alpha Bs apart anytime soon to see if there's any extra magic there.

But as for the issue at hand of a couple extra upward swipes needed to get the minimizing app / peek gesture going, the casing here is the thing to blame. It's chunky and covers part of the display up. It's kind of a silly mistake to have been made -- especially seeing as how these devices are being used in demos, but that's the reality. I think part of why it happened was that when you use the Dev Alpha B completely normally infront of you with one thumb, it doesn't seem to happen much (the natural angles all work). But if you start to use an index finger or turn the phone away from you and try, etc., that's when the case gets a bit in the way.

So that's the story. If you see any people getting this wrong and misreporting it, do your CrackBerry duty and send them to this article and straighten them out.

Reader comments

BlackBerry Peek software problems? Nah, the Dev Alpha B casing just gets in the way a little


Good thing I have the uber sexy OG Dev Alpha and I don't have to worry about that nonsense. I don't get why RIM took the Dev Alpha and beat it with an ugly stick and then made the Dev Alpha B. The new model looks like it should be older. It looks like a step backwards.

New updated guts didn't fit perfectly in old casing, as writer suggested. We don't care about the Dev devices anyway. Just need the real hardware to rock!

New updated guts didn't fit perfectly in old casing, as writer suggested. We don't care about the Dev devices anyway. Just need the real hardware to rock!

I noticed that too. Thanks for clearing it up for all to read.

Really impressed with what we've seen so far! The waiting just got a lot harder!

I've noticed it too as I comment it on a previous article. I hope it's the case of the dev alpha because I'll be very unimpressed if had to swipe twice.

I really think that the final hardware will not be too different from that of the dev alpha B body that it's tucked in the boxy shell. It's very noticeable that these are two different parts put together to make the dev alpha B.

yeah i do have to admit that the dev alpha b unit looks very ugly. im sorry but i hope the actual N, L and now R series units will look a million times better. i honestly wish that the new iphone 5 could run bb10 os. my dream phone.

Not very smart on RIM's behalf though, if you're showing off your new OS - to many for the first time - it's a real foot shooting contest to do so in harware which affects the experience.

What you are looking at could be an actual BB10 final hardware with a disguised casing. It would be silly and not cost effective to re-develop new developer alpha with the launch date this close.

The purposes of that ugly case is to conceal the actual thickness and industrial design of the BB10 device at launch. Perhaps someone could force open the case, add 1-2mm plastic around the body and visualise a final BB10 device.

I thought the Dev Alpha B was a disguised L-Series the moment I saw it. It's the only logical explanation for that bulky shell when compared to the original Dev Alpha and it's generic but sleek design. Then I noticed in earlier pics with the battery door off those rounded corners and was like that's real BB 10 in there.

So the next step is, some one please sacrifice one for the greater good and let us know how much RAM is in there, what radio module, what SOC, and all the rest of the nitty gritty details about what we can look forward to next year.

When I examined the Dev Alpha B properly it ocurred to me like a phone within a rugged bulky case...and when I heard the Dev Alphas ran out I had this same logic dat since the BB10 hardware was more or less final that RIM had actually slapped a rugged casing on a few of them to cut prod'n cost. I did notice the double tries to swipe as well but I wasn't really worried for the final BB10 OS...I was just a lil sad that it happened, especially on stage..

I personally don't believe for a second that RIM is showing their final H/W design. But I could be wrong of course

Grammar police here...
" this was there take on it "
should be 'their' not 'there' as the take belongs to them.

As for the point of the article... I never noticed the multiple swipes. Having a PlayBook I am used to some sluggishness in some apps when responding to swipes. Never had any problems with os swipes though.

I beg to disagree: there's a real useability issue, because the gesture only succeeds with a high velocity that a hesitating beginner won't have. He may the even reduce further the velocity to ensure he does the right curve. And in the browser this is a almost certain call to get the keyboard that you must close before retrying the gesture or in list like setting, you may catch the list. And if you makena long tap on the bezel before starting the gesture, you are almost deem to see it catch as a tap on the bottom menu of the app. A pain.
There is no clear setting by the way to flip it other for a left handed for whom it might be inconvenient. Somehow i feel that the flow is incomplete because if i dont peek the notifications when initiating it from within an app, i might still want to switch to another app but i can only come back to the app, and restart a playbook like gesture...
So i like a lot the concept but it still fill uncomplete and unfinished. There is still some time, but if the carriers are to test it rigth now, it might slow down the loop right now on user interface validation unless .
And well i still have a huge pain for the initial slow wpa connection at work that times out to fast to be associated. Once the association is done and the connection saved. It is fine, the i couldn't avoid a systematic timeout in the 10+ attempts i did today...
It looks very like the users will enjoy a large update over the air out of the box. And my bet is that the us market won't be addressed first before all this stabilizes probably with letting some more forgiving market refilling the treasuries, and proving the os first to attract more apps. But are these markets high end?
I r ally hope that they can defend their product because its potential is quite appealing.

I really hope RIM patents the peek feature because it rocks! Also, I really hope too that they add the convenience keys as well. Question: What hardware is the Dev Alpha A & B running? And is the "L" the top of the line phone?

Sorry, but the theory is just wrong. The updated Dev Alpha "A" has the problem and it's quite obvious it's not because of the case... A simple software problem... likely... And no big deal I expect.