BlackBerry PlayBook 101: Understanding the PlayBook's User Interface and How To Navigate with Gestures (video)

By Kevin Michaluk on 16 Apr 2011 09:53 am EDT

Video PlayBook 101: Understanding the BlackBerry PlayBook's Homescreen and UI and Navigating the Operating System Using Gestures

One of the many videos I posted within my BlackBerry PlayBook Review was the above walkthrough video which explains the PlayBook's homescreen and user interface and how to use the bezel gestures to navigate the PlayBook. I've let quite a few people try out my PlayBook already, and it's become quite obvious that first time users will greatly benefit from understanding these gestures before they actually give the device a go (they're not something you'll just immediately figure out). But once you learn them, which only takes a minute and a few more to get used to, navigating on the PlayBook becomes an amazingly slick experience, and a fun one at that.

On the PlayBook's display itself, all of the standard touchscreen gestures you'd expect to find are present. Swiping, Pinching and Dragging are all present. But beyond that, bezel gestures allow you to do so much more. The PlayBook's basic navigation gestures include:

  • Showing the homescreen - swipe up from the bottom frame (BlackBerry logo) onto the screen
  • Show the options menu within apps - swipe down from top frame
  • Switch between open apps - swipe left or right from the side frames when more than one app is open
  • Show the status bar - diagonal wipe onto the screen from top left or right corner
    • This is important as it allows you do things like lock the screen orientation from within an app
    • If you get a notification glow (like when Bridge is hooked up and you get an email), this gesture will also display the notification
  • Show keyboard - diagonal swipe onto the screen from the bottom left corner

Beyond gestures, this video also gives you a look at the whole user interface - how apps are treated on the homescreen, how you can re-arrange icons, use the PlayBook in orientation mode, and more. Knowing is half the battle, so if you are planning on heading down to the store to try out a PlayBook for yourself, be sure to watch this video so you can really put the device through its paces the moment you pick it up. And if you want to learn even more, be sure to check out all of our BlackBerry PlayBook 101's.

Reader comments

BlackBerry PlayBook 101: Understanding the PlayBook's User Interface and How To Navigate with Gestures (video)


Lol. Yep.  I guess it's kind of cheating though when the author of the post calls first... I could win that race every single time! :)

hi kevin

Please post a
review about battery life
review about benefits of internet tethering,

review about app games that is available in flash, like angry bird, you can buy it as app but you can download it for free as flash game. I know that there are so many flash-based games that playbook fans can enjoy.

and many others that will highlight the benefits of having blackberry playbook.

please compare the capabilities and features that are present in both IPAD2 and Playbook so that people will know how the two devices handle the features it offers. example, how ipad2 and playbook handle presentation with HDMI cable, how the playbook and ipad2 handle multitasking, how the playbook and the ipad2 differ in connectivity,

Please also highlight what Playbook can do that the IPAD2 cannot do.

I just want the people to know that the best tablet is Playbook which is true.

FYI: I guess Kevin will get around to it soon, but still you can check out They have an excellent Playbook review on tethering and Blackberry bridge: apparently when you connect your Playbook to your smartphone via BB Bridge (bluetooth), you not only have access to mail, contacts, BBM, etc, you ALSO have access to the browser on your phone. So you can actually use the browser via Bridge WITHOUT tethering, and NO OTHER tablet or device out there can do that, only on the Playbook.

Also, if that didn't blow your head clean off, the Playbook also acts like a drive on your PC, laptop, Mac; so that after connecting it the first time and setting it up, you can move files, pictures, documents, books, etc to the Playbook drive on your computer and it transfers it via WIFI (look ma, no cables!) to your Playbook. NO OTHER tablet or device can do that.

You can also tether if you like. :)

Yeah, I know everything that playbook can do, that is why I will buy playbook, But I want those reviews for those uninformed, those affected by bad reviews, those who needs to know more about playbook,


Why do many reviewers are stupid and bias,, I HATE them All, They keep on trying to putdown playbook, everyday in every reviews....they are so BAD

To that I will say, its the US media that has all these biases, for the Republicans, for Apple, etc.

techradar is a UK blog and they had a really good review of the Playbook, as did a number of Canadian news outlets.

The way journalism works in the US, across the board and not just politics, appears to be quite different from the way it works in the rest of the world.

Go figure.

I want to read reviews with title

"The playbook can do this thing, the IPAD1 and IPAD2 can't."

I hope I can read reviews like that everyday, so to highlight that Playbook is capable of many things than IPAD 1 and 2 and that's the real thing,

This is very helpful. Given the comments about the complexity of Blackberry Bridge in the Crackberry Podcast I've love a video "How To" about it. Also, if anybody knows how quickly leaving the phone and Playbook "Bridged" drains battery life I'd be very curious to know. Thanks again Crackberry!

Are you sure you haven't missed any? :p

Great walkthrough... I hope the builtin tutorials cover it just as well as you did.

Great walkthrough kev! Now I def know its DOA lol... Oh RIM just come out with QNX cell phones and stop wasting your time in the tablet arena. QNX will be great on handhelds but rim just can't compete with a 7 inch screen regardless of fancy gestures to maximize the 7 inches especially at the price point.

my 2 cents.

Hello All, my comment is a little bit off topic but here goes. First off, I would like to state that I Love my Blackberry. I've owned 5 different models which include 8110, 8900, 9700, I still have my lovely 9000, and my Torch. In my honest opinion, I think that a blackberry is the best wireless device for anyone to carry for Many reasons! I don't look down upon any other devices on the market at all. I've actually owned an iPhone and it wasn't for me. I also own an iPad which is okay, I can live with it. However, I've been looking forward to this Playbook for quite some time, and I love what I see so far for the most part. Okay, here goes my big problem with this tablet: Where is the MICROSD CARD slot? This would be the first Blackberry device that I would own that does not have an expansion slot. I have 32 GB in my Torch! I don't understand why RIM would do this, can someone please answer this for me please? I'm very irritated about it, to say the least. Pretty please with sugar on top, RIM, put an expansion slot in the Playbook 2.
Having said all of that, I will always be a Blackberry guy!!

I strongly agree with you about the sd card slot. I don't think RIM should have taken the Apple road of having to hook the Playbook up to a computer to load stuff.

but you DON'T have to hook it up to a computer....once you connect it for the first time you can transfer files to your Playbook via WiFi, no cables!

yeah, that's right,

the connectivity options in Playbook is really amazing

Bridge using blackberry playbook
internet tethering via bluetooth using other smartphone
file sharing from desktop to playbook using wifi
bluetooth for connecting devices such as mouse and keyboard

Hey.. CrackBerry dot com... please give us some further incite into the operating system and spead. How quickly will email populate. What is the Playbood boot time like. How quickly does it access a web site that is uncashed? I really want some real world demos. I want one, but I don't want to be disappointed when I start to use it real world.

Guys -

Anyone who is asking questions like how fast do webpages load - or any question that's been asked in this thread...

If you read Kevin's full BlackBerry PlayBook review, you will realize all of these questions have been answered. He obviously put a significant amount of time into writing it so I think you should do him the respect of reading it before asking more questions. The equivalent of searching in the forums before posting a new thread.

Can you do the keyboard gesture on the home screen, key in a word, app name, or phase and the Playbook will search the Playbook or the web?

In other words, does the Playbook have universal search?

guys its really easy.. i read the articles like once... went to staples when they had a demo and figured it out almost instantly.. the lady was like to me.. it seems like uve used this before... really that easy!