Continuing our exploration and brainstorming of BlackBerry 10 on the Dev Alpha B developer hardware, I wanted to take a few minutes and highlight the flow experience within an app. Why? Because I LOVE it.
Since BlackBerry World, there have been plenty of demo videos showing off how the flow experience of BlackBerry 10 works between apps, whether it's flowing back to the homescreen, peeking into the BlackBerry Hub or flowing between open apps via Active Frames. But the flow doesn't stop there. Within apps, RIM has done a great job to continue this flowing experience as you move between menus and options and dive layers deep into an app.
A pre-release version of BlackBerry Messenger for BB10 is loaded on the Dev Alpha B, and does a great job of illustrating this in-app flow. Be sure to check out the video above which walks through it all, and keep reading as we put some of the details into text.
Let's break down the anatomy of a flowing BlackBerry 10 app, like BBM:
- First Level Icons - As you would expect, the most important app features on any given screen get first level presentation with a graphic, so you see them and tap them (no flow there, as you'd expect).
- Menu Swipe from the Left - On the homescreen of BBM, you can swipe from the left side of the display to flow in a menu that features important app features. In BBM, there is some redundancy here to the first level icons (Chats, Contacts, Groups), but additional options are also listed like Invites and Updates. To get back to the app screen, you swipe it in from the right.
- Overflow menu - Tapping the icon with three little vertical dots slides in the overflow menu into the app. This is akin to hitting the menu key on a BlackBerry Smartphone today and getting lots of options. You can swipe the menu away cleanly or tap back on the part of the app that's showing to have it slide away.
- Tap and Hold menu - When it comes to specific items that you may want to take action on, tapping and holding on an item will flow in an action menu from the right. The natural state of this menu is to remain skinny, only displaying icons, but you can actually tap and hold on the icons to further slide out a description of what it is.
- Swipe down for settings - Swiping down from the top of the display within an app pulls in the menu that contains app Settings. Like on the homescreen of BlackBerry 10, this swipe down for settings action appears to be standard across native apps that are preloaded on the Dev Alph B, like the Browser, Calendar and Contacts. There are some app-specific options here too. BBM shows Invite by Barcode for example.
- Swiping Left to Peek back - And perhaps the part of the app experience that creates that flow feeling the most is the ability to swipe right within an app and peek partially back -- or flow all the way back -- to the previous screen. This means you don't really need to tap the back button at all - you can just swipe back through the layers of an app. This is huge on so many levels. Think about writing an email, seeing a notification that you just got another email, and being able to peek back and see who it's from without leaving the draft that you're on.
Broken down bit by bit it might not sound all that exciting. Heck, it might even sound a bit confusing to read through. But when you put these features together into an app like BlackBerry Messenger and actually start using it, it really makes for a freak'n awesome app experience.
It's fluid. It's fast. It's friendly. It's fun. It just FLOWS.