BlackBerry PlayBook Feature Request: Two Finger Bezel to Bezel Gesture to Power Off Display

By Kevin Michaluk on 25 Apr 2011 02:59 pm EDT

Much-Needed BlackBerry PlayBook Gesture

I may not work for Research In Motion, QNX, The Astonishing Tribe or Teknision, but a good UI idea is a good UI idea regardless of where it comes from. And this is a GOOD IDEA and I hope RIM reads this and implements it asap on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Without contention, the least liked hardware feature of the BlackBerry PlayBook is the power button (see our BlackBerry PlayBook Review). It's tiny and can be tough to press, which isn't a great thing considering powering on and off the display from standby is something that gets done a lot on a tablet. 

The good news is that you can do a pretty good job avoiding the power button on the PlayBook, especially when waking the screen from standby, as there is a sweet built-in gesture you can use instead. All you need to do is swipe from bezel to bezel, either top to bottom or side to side with one finger and the display will automatically turn on. Brilliant! Not so brilliant though is powering off the PlayBook, which still requires either a tap of the power button or you can simply leave it on and let it time out to standby (which eats a bit into battery life and isn't useful if you're putting the PlayBook back into a case so want it immediately turned off).

So how do we do solve this problem? With CrackBerry Kevin's patent-pending two finger bezel-to-bezel swipe!! If you can swipe with one finger from bezel to bezel to power on the display, why not set it up so that swiping with TWO fingers from bezel to bezel powers OFF the PlayBook's display. Simple. Effective. And man would it make me happy. With this gesture you could now get away with never touching the power button, except when starting up a PlayBook that was completely shutdown (since there's now a software power button app that allows for a restart or full power down). And if two finger swiping proves to be a technical hurdle, the fall back could be to use top to bottom swiping to power on the display and left to right swiping to power it down (single finger). Either or works for me.

Are you with me PlayBook owners and future QNX-BlackBerry Smartphone owners? Using power buttons is soooo old school. Let's get this one done RIM!!!!

Reader comments

BlackBerry PlayBook Feature Request: Two Finger Bezel to Bezel Gesture to Power Off Display


I like the way you think, however once it is off with a two finger swipe, does that mean i have to hit the button to get it on again? How about adding a 'sleep' option to the Power Off Button?

NOOOOOOO.... a SINGLE swipe bezel to bezel still powers it on. This puts it into standby. For FULL POWER DOWN you'd still go by the normal method (click the power button on the OS and choose to power down or press and hold on power button for two seconds to get the pop up where you can choose to restart or shut down).

The double swipe would act the same as a tap of the power button... simply turning off the display..which is what you do the majority of the time.

My PlayBook has the option to put into StandBy mode from the Power Button(wonder if anyone else's PB has the feature)
...I do like your idea of 2finger bezel gesture for StandBy as well...

**Update: PowerButton/StandBy Option only on OS that is shipped with device(during initial SetUp). Once initial setup is done and "forced OS update" is completed, that feature is no-more".**

Also, with previous .16xx OS builds, PB is able to charge with any micro USB charger. However, with .1710 update, only BB charger will charge PB.

I like this idea and when showing it to others you could tell them that you have to say "sleep" at the same time, some might believe it ;-)

I like the way you think, however once it is off with a two finger swipe, does that mean i have to hit the button to get it on again? How about adding a 'sleep' option to the Power Off Button?

this would be awesome! Better yet would have this gesture launch the power off app with the addition of a standby option...then at least you can decide what you want to do.

oh and ps: make this only available from the home screen...devs may like to add a two finger swipe down in apps

I would like for there to be a gesture to swipe between tabs in the browser. Swiping down and then tapping what tab I want is so old school. Two finger swipe from side, swiped between tabs.

Wouldn't three fingers be better since using two you could accidentally turn it on/off when doing normal one finger gestures?

Not necessary.  FULL LENGTH bezel to bezel gestures are very pronounced.  Accidentally doing a full length two figure bezel to bezel gesture while using the device is never gonna happen. It's not just from one bezel... you have to drag all the way across to the second bezel. 



lol let's not get carried away here -

But Kevin's idea is great. It's practical and I would certainly use it.

You can just swipe your finger across the screen to wake it from standby and just use the power off button in the all apps category to turn it off. The only time you really need to use the power button on the top is to turn it on after it's been shut down. Why is everybody whining about the power button?

The power button in the all apps category isn't for putting the device into standby.. that's for either a Full Power Down or a Restart (plus it's slow to use that as it literally opens an app to power down).  I'm talking about you just put the PlayBook out of your hand onto the coffee table, or you're quitting using it to put into the case. You don't use the full power down (or else you're waiting again to restart it..that's dumb).... you just want to kill the display as you're done using it. Currently you have to tap the power button to do that, which is a bit of a pain. You can swipe bezel to bezel to power on the display from standby... a two finger swipe would power it down to standby.

it's intuitive, is in the same context as the gesture already there, and would make people stfu about the power button as then you'd really not need it at all.

Thanks for the tip on the 1 finger bezel to bezel wake up. I was hitting the power button to wake it up. I guess I need to take a Playbook class. :)

Good idea! Lets hope RIM is getting all feeds from CB & Kevin's requests!! Keep 'em coming!

BTW, I just had my 1st official business meeting using the PB as my sales tool!! it went Awesome!! I was able to copy price lists, excel reports OTA wifi from my workstation, was able to view vendor's website and go to emails for reference and SHOW OFF my beautiful PB!!!

KEVIN, pls ask for this feature: THE OPTION TO FIND (like ctrl+f on PC) to search for part numbers, or specific chapters, names or references on big EXCEL. PDF and WORD files. I guess this is more for DOCS TO GO & ADOBE than RIM... tks!

haha. congrats. great minds think alike. I actually thought about it like two weeks ago (right after i put up our review and saw all the power button complaints on all the reviews).. just forgot to blog it up and then remembered on friday then the easter weekend hit and just finally posted today.  i'm sure many people have had similar thoughts.

Totally agree Kevin!!!

Awesome idea.

Here is for hoping that RIM takes your suggestion and runs with it....

Sounds awesome Kevin! RIM should employ you! LoL
- one thing that we really really need for the pb is silverlight support. We have flash which is great. But perhaps you can put a buz in RIMS ear about silverlight - what happened to "web without compromise" !!! Thanks Kevin

We DO NEED SILVERLIGHT SUPPORT in the web browser.

gave my gf's dad (73 years old) a PlayBook this weekend... they're italian... they want to watch their Rai.TV shows on the playbook... no go.. they use the silverlight plugin on that site.  Booooo :(

I agree with 123berryaddict, Kevin. We need to get the word out to have the PB support silverlight. We have to keep working towards the "we without compromise" that was talked about.

So your saying that every single owner of a Playbook should bombard RIM with email requesting this feature which should have been there in the first place in the hopes that they will listen to us and update it in a future update? I like that idea!

This just seems so logical. Good idea there Kevin. RIM genuinely seems to be listening and watching. They are totally devoted to this platform, so I have no doubt that we'll see fast and furious development. Keep on 'em Kevin and THANK YOU!


If we don't want to enter the world of the two finger bezel gesture on the playbook, you could also do bezel to bezel SWIPE DOWN for powering on, and bezel to bezel SWIPE UP for power off. Like zipping a jacket open and closed. Could even give it an animiated graphical effect and zipping sound to match. Hawt!

That wouldn't work so well, only because the swipe up has separate meaning - and in order to be responsive it can't wait to see if you're going to continue the swipe all the way to the opposite bezel, it needs to respond as soon as it sees the gesture.

The two finger swipe gets around this (and is a great idea) because it won't interfere with any other system gestures.

Another step in the right direction would be a way to temporarily disable bezel swipes - perhaps with a specific swipe of its own? I find it annoying when using apps that take you right up to the screen's edge... constantly swiping into the next task by accident. (Air Hockey, I'm looking at you!)

And while we're going crazy, what about user defined swipes? Launch specific apps, etc...

I'm off to buy my 64G right now.

Kevin, your idea sounds great. You of all people can get RIM to listen.

Get r dun Kevin.


64G PlayBook I have to wait until this Sunday to pick it up!!! This will be a long week.

I don't mind the power button - if it turned off the screen on simple press, that woudl be perfect. But as it is, the only way to turn off the screen without turning off the device... is to wait for it to time out.

How about all gestures uses 2 fingers, and to turn it off use 3 fingers ?

I'm sure others have had problems with scrolling web pages and accidentally swipe up the menu....

I like this idea! I was just thinking that there should be an easier way to turn off the screen by using swiping.

My idea was to move from bezel to bezel (like to turn on) and then back to the original bezel (like up - down - up).

That's a genius idea! If they don't do it, maybe we can petition for it via twitition. The tiny power button is a bit of a pain so as a temp. power option, that would be brilliant!

Totally support this great idea! Very practical & easy to implement via an OS update. I hope that RIM is listening.

I also hope that the next rev of the hardware finally resolves the underlying design issue. Users shouldn't be afraid to press their $700 tablet's power button ... <-- love the image at the bottom of this forum post

Kudos to you for this well thought out "quick fix"! Hope there isn't some sort of patent on two finger swipes by you know who ;-)

I would rather have the side bezels used as scrolling for the internet broswer, since the screen is packed with most of the web page. I always catch myself stoping or playing a video, opening a unwanted link etc etc. Get on it rim! Please and thanks. But I also see how it would be a bad idea at the same time since we tend to hold it by the bezel.

I think a pinch gesture on the bezel is much more intuitive. It would be as if you are closing its eye. Just to be clear, finger on the top bezel, a thumb on the bottom bezel and then close them together.

This is a great idea.
If for some reason another the 2 fingure swipe isnt possible I vote for an improvement to the power off app. when you click it you get 3 options Power off, standby or cancel.

oh yeah and +1 for silverlight, I need netflix on PB

I gotta say, when i read this earlier today I thought, what is everyones problem with the power button. I never had a problem with it. I was always able to turn it off on my first try, even if I couldn't see it, but i just now bought the BB PlayBook Journal case and now it is hard as hell to turn off my PlayBook. I don't want to return the case because it looks so damn good so now I'm on board with some other way to turn the screen off. Actually, I just wish the closing the case turned off the screen. I actually thought I read before that this case is supposed to have power saving features. I'm not seeing any.

"closing the case to turn off the screen" (aka holster) is a great idea too in addition to 2-finger bezel to bezel swipe

Using a gesture to put the device in stand-by is pretty obvious, but picking a two-finger swipe is an arbitrary, unnecessary and non-discoverable choice.

I had suggested at first that the single-finger bezel-to-bezel swipe should just put it back into sleep, but (duh!) obviously that will not work well with the current UI where the gesture would activate an existing function (e.g. swipe between apps) before it has completed.

Unfortunately, I don't think the two-finger approach is a big improvement. I did earlier suggest using the bottom-right swipe (which seems to be vacant) for a user-programmable feature, which could include enabling standby. I still think that sort of idea is better than adding yet another gesture for people to learn. Some people are overly gesture-happy.

Unfortunately RIM will be unlikely to implement this now :P. Most companies cannot accept unsolicited ideas due to legal reasons...

Hey Crackberry Kevin,

What a great idea! I know RIM may be not able to take unsolicited advise, but they are listening. I am surprised RIM doesn't put you on the payroll. Keep up the good work.

Also Kevin, I would like to see a 3D middle finger app from, and supply free 3D glasses to ipad 2 owners. How about them apples?

you're absolutely spot on there, son. this idea should allow for thumbs and toes too. while we're at it, let's allow for a 2 tongue lick?

THANK YOU! Great idea! My PB does not have the slightly raised power button and it is a pain to use, esp. when it is in the convertible case. I have to pry it partially out of the case to turn it off - hard to do in the dark on the airplane!

A bezel to bezel swipe of some kind would be GREAT to just shut off or lock the screen. I never use the power button. It is so tiny and dose not work well with my nails. I simply lay it down and wait. But like Kevin mentioned is kind of a pain when I am ready to put it away. A quick swipe and the screen goes off would make things better. The option to have it lock the screen or not would be an added bonus. I like being able to lock my torch on command, or just be able to put it in standby mode depending on where I am or where I am going to put it.

Great idea!! Total support for this...i sure hope the post about companies not being able implement unsolicited ideas is false.....many of the best improvements on products come from the users.