Brainstorming BB10: How should the "Peek" gesture work in landscape?

By Kevin Michaluk on 17 Oct 2012 04:27 pm EDT

Continuing down the path of Brainstorming for BB10, another topic I want to tackle is the integration of the Peek gesture in BlackBerry 10 when using the phone in landscape. 

To date, when the flow experience of BlackBerry 10 has been demonstrated by RIM, the phone has always been in portrait. You're in an app, the LED flashes red that you have a message, you swipe up from the bottom and move to the right and you can unveil the BlackBerry Hub, which brings together all of your messages and texts from various sources. It's brilliant.

But what about when using the phone in landscape? I was Probing Some Humans last night on the Dev Alpha B, holding the device in landscape, when the LED started flashing with an incoming BBM message. At that moment it struck me that unlike in portrait, based on what we have seen of BlackBerry 10 so far, I wouldn't have the same gesture-friendly way of peeking into the hub to quickly decide if I wanted to act on that message or just leave it be. 

On the Dev Alpha B, when in landscape you can swipe up from the bottom of the display (the right side of the display in portrait, bottom in this case the way I was holding the phone sideways) and it will minimize the app back into the Active Frames, which are still in a portrait orientation. It quickly became apparent to me that the most efficient thing to do in this was go back to holding the phone in portrait and Peek from there. 

In the video above I illustrate the usage case for Peek in both portrait and landscape. I use the web browser as the app to demonstrate with, as it works in both portrait and landscape orientation. [ Side note: It's kind of interesting to see that right now if you minimize the web browser in landscape, it stays landscape in the portrait-oriented Active Frame. Also interesting that with the web browser in Dev Alpha B BB10 preview build, there's a bit of a conflict right now sometimes between sliding up the keyboard and minimizing the app ].

Looking ahead to the official launch of BlackBerry 10, I'll be curious to see if RIM makes any changes to the flow in landscape. If they left it as, I wouldn't complain. It keeps things a little more simple to lock Peek into only the portrait orientation. At the same time, I can't help but think at some point RIM will want to figure out the implementation of peeking into the hub in landscape as well. We've pondered previously on BlackBerry 10 about how RIM will integrate the Hub onto a tablet - and a tablet with a 7" form factor like the PlayBook is very much a landscape device. So if they figure it out for the tablet, then it could potentially work the same for landscape on the phone. 

Check out the video above and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!

Reader comments

Brainstorming BB10: How should the "Peek" gesture work in landscape?


Gmail, cool. I was wondering. All the alpha pre BB10 vids I've seen like this are always in portrait mode and never landscape mode. I have a Playbook and this may sound like a stupid question but was wondering if BB10 is gonna have the same great features in both portrait and landscape mode?
Tablets are incredible

small icons do not mean its a link to a website, small icons are because the PlayBook uses 86x86 and the dev alpha uses 150x150. also when you bookmark a website to the home screen it uses a screenshot of the website for the icon.

for me it's clear: BB10 Devices must work in Portrait same as in Landscape.
this is the only way to go to provide the seemless UX.
a modern mobile device should never never dictate the user the orientation they have to use

the portrait and landscape mode should provide the same experience...or else some of us might go mad..some use the phone quite a lot in landscape.. and suddenly switch to portrait... not happening...


BB 9780 white os 6

BB Playbook 32gb os

Absolutely correct! ALL of the gestures necessary to swipe, peek, go to the Hub or whatever, should work the same regardless of the device's orientation. Nothing more annoying or jarring than having to stop and tell yourself to make a different gesture than what you're accustomed to. And that should carry over to the PB OS10 also - make it feel like a larger version of the phone, so we can seamlessly transition between the two without having to use different gestures.

Peek and Hub should be accessible in the same fashion (up and to the right) in either orientation you are in. If you change the gesture from portrait to landscape, it will confuse everyone. You cant ask users to access the peek and hub in different ways based on the way they hold the device. Thats my 2 cents.

Kevin, more great questions. I wouldn't use a landscape peek but there always seems to be an uproar if something is not available in landscape. So it has to be there at launch. For those that would choose to use this I think the best way for it to work would be perhaps the left hand of the screen is the items in the peek and the right side is the currently selected item in the hub. For example if you peek in landscape it will fit maybe the 4 most recent items on the left side,see more you scroll down. Right side is the highlighted item in a secondary peek. The secondary peek is just showing you as much content of the selected peek item as possible. Just like outlook or the playbook inbox. So it would show you as much of the email or conversation,etc as wouldn't look logical to have two columns of peek items, or just half the screen with them. OR HERES ANOTHER THOUGHT. The left side of the landscape peek is the regular hub and you can PIN whatever you want to the right side. You you could peek for alerts and weather, or alerts and a live game score, Etc

I don't think the WHOLE device has to work in landscape. My Galaxy S 3 will not rotate on the home screen the way the PlayBook does, for example. Nor does it rotate in the application grid. The hub I agree should work in landscape. Though I imagine I'll only be using landscape orientation for web browsing, videos, and the occasional game.

I disagree. I had a storm (then a 9650, and now...) prior to going to Android. One thing I did love about the storm, yes I used those same two words in the same sentence, was that no matter what I was doing with exception to the dialer, it would rotate if I turned it. I actually wish my Dinc2 did that.

And in case you're wondering, I'm doing a similar world tour to what Kevin is doing as I wait with baited breath for BB10.

since the menu bar is larger while on landscape, why not add a button with the option to peek close to one of the bottom corners?

I was wondering about this about a week ago as well. So i picked up my playbook and tried to see how it would feel doing the peek gesture in landscape. At first I was worried that it wouldnt translate nicely in landscape, but after a few "mock" gestures I think it would work just as well in landscape. That being said I agree with everyone eles that it should work the same in both landscape and portrait.

Recently I was trying out the compition a bit and used an HTC one V and I was shocked when it wouldnt switch to landscape on the homescreen. I understand that a phone is different than a tablet and when your on the homescreen it is most likely you will want to be in portrait, but in 2012/2013 we should have the right to choose.

An excellent question considering BB10 is supposed to be coming to the PlayBook. the PlayBook as we all know is mainly a landscape device. And this better come out too!

They should let us users with PlayBooks beta test what method would work best. PlayBook is a landscape device primarily. Beta zone is tied into BBid now so it could definitely work.

I'd love to help ;)

also i vote for a contest where kevin lends out his dev alpha b to crackberry users to try for a set amount of time like a few days and then we send it back to him, because seeing these videos and not being able to use this device is killing me. since it was my idea i should get it first. like that leaked marketing video "getting into the right hands" whos more of the right hands then us CB users !!

id like the way the playbook sorta works in any app you can bring down the battey or time part of the screen and drag into show a part of the app screen. If they made a modification to that style of peak and add it in like that it would be kind of cool.

Question about portrait and landscape: is there a definite bottom to the dev alpha/dev alpha B or does it work like the playbook in that I can flip it upside down in portrait ("dev alpha B" label would be written upside down at the top of the device) and have the screen follow and present the right (readable) way? I think Motorola was looking at getting a patent for putting a speaker and mic at both the top and bottom of a device so the user doesn't have to figure out which way is up when they pull it out of their pocket. Is that a possibility here?


Edit: Oh and I think it should work exactly the same way in portrait and landscape, just the apps should reformat to fit the screen.

Similar to PlayBook peek: top right corner and slide finger 45¤ diagonal to peek for messages, if you whant to the hub, than gosto all the way down.

It definitely has to work in landscape. It's not only the web browser, but it's also watching videos and playing games like Angry Birds.


I think you accidently got the gesture while trying to explain the predicament.

At the 2:00 mark when you swiped up in landscape, you swiped down as soon as your app went into the active frame, not sure that was intentional, but the Hub swiped into the screen.
What if that was it? Just swipe up to minimize(Active frame) and a quick swipe down to "pull down" the hub and even a second swipe up to "throw" the hub away/up and reactivate the app you minimized? I'm sure coding the Hub to reconize and display landscape would not be that much, but the swiping gestures are already there.

The Peach Eater

Yeah, that was sort of accidental / intentional. If you're in landscape, swipe up and minimize the app, then pull down from the top, you will slide in the hub right now.. but it's not pull down... the phone treats it as if you were in portrait, so it slides in sideways... like as if you were in portrait and it flew in from the left.

Hey Kevin, with all this excitement and brainstorming about BB10, any exciting projects brewing to get CrackBerry ready?

Project CB10 for BB10?

New html5 mobile site? Seemless integration of news page and forum community that would let us flow between blog posts and forum posts? New ways to peek into what's happening across Mobile Nations?

QUESTION: Have you tried trying to swipe up in the middle of the screen? Though I have not handled a Dev Alpha unit, from the videos I watch, it appears that in portrait mode many people have difficulty peeking when they swipe up from anything other than directly in the middle of the bezel/screen... So that makes me wonder...

In this video, Kevin, you only swipe up from off-center while in landscape. Have you tried swiping up from directly in the middle of the bezel/screen while in landscape? Wonder if this makes a difference... Like, maybe the peek function for landscape is already there and you're just not hitting the sweet spot.

Just a thought... It would be great if you could respond with clarification on this.


It'll swipe up from the left or right.. don't need to be dead centered. The casing the Dev Alpha B is pretty bulky though... not really friendly for swiping in landscape. 

Anything but the same way wudnt make sense...who is to say that's its not already the case but its jus not activated in the build ur usin kev

Should be the same gesture for continuity sake. The last thing we want is more confusion as the gestures can be quite confusing for the uninitiated.

Something else to think about. How about handed based gesture? I'm a lefty so the swipe to the right isn't as natural as to the left.

So how about it RIM a setting for your handed?? Show some love to the leftys out there!

I luv the peek idea, but I think the L motion is too much. Most often when I have seen people demonstrate this, the inverted L action doesn't work or miniimizes the app. I think RIM needs to change this to something simpler, how come we can't just swipe from L to R to peek, it's too awkward of a motion to go up and to the right. please make it simpler.

To me it seems pretty obvious.
a) you were getting the keyboard popping up because the address bar was there and it was picking up your touch in the address bar and therefore popping up the keyboard. Need to get into that gesture area to start your swipe Kevin!
b) The gesture should remain the same in landscape and portrait. For right handed people it should use the bottom right half side (or maybe three quarters) for the gesture, while for left handed people, who hold t in their left hand, it should use the bottom left side action and be configurable.

Unfortunately I don't have a dev unit, but to me it seems the question about what to do, shouldn't even be a question. Keep the experience as close as possible to being the same, whether in landscape or portrait. Don't have different gestures for similar tasks in the OS. After all, it's all about the experience!

Re: A) Hard to do on the Dev Alpha B hardware... that casing they have on it is high and covers up a lot of the device all around. Practiced, but could never get 100% consistent... 

***for anyone that gasped when kevin was trying to get to the hub but the keyboard came up, its not because the software has errors or it is hard to do. its because the dev alpha model has a casing around the device that makes gestures hard to do. this casing will not be on final product. please search the crackberry articles for further info on this ******

While in landscape (or portrait) mode, make the bottom right 25% of the screen do the peek function. Anything to the left of the 25% mark, make it scroll/bring up the keyboard, etc.

From the video you can tell how beta this version of the OS is. Landscape doesn't seem usable at all. I was hoping for PB like UI in landscape. It would be awesome if in the setting we could customize some of the UI. Like which side the hub was one for left-handed people or having PB UI. Or the UI could change when you plug it in. I'm expecting it to be intuitive yet sophisticated.

I'd say to just do it the Palm Pre way and make it so you still swipe as if the phone were in portrait. So in this case you would swipe from the left side inwards.

If your in landscape and need to get to the hub I would turn to portrait. If its that important to check for something then I can turn the phone. Otherwise ill ignore till im done doing whatever im doing in landscape.

How does it make cents to squish the hub into landscape? How could you really see everything at a glance?

Why not keep the orientation. Peek to the right, swipe up from the bottom to get the open apps, but these open apps have to be in landscape too. In the video they appear to be in portrait, while the browser was in landscape. This way, people won't have to think about it.

I'd say a peek a la PlayBook from one corner, and the alerts organized in two columns.

As it is now, you can peek on the PlayBook from the left corner and if you keep dragging, it will show more space.

So maybe, one corner swipe will show number of messages and an extended drag will show the messages.

I notice from Kevin that he often like to "throw" the phone on the table and "bang" the table after a review. Banging or tapping the table is fine but throwing the phone on the table rather than putting it down?? Whats the purpose?

- Charles

I do the same sometimes even with the PlayBook just because I think BlackBerry devices are shock resistant!

It has to work in the landscape as well as in the portrait mode, if it works only in the portrait mode it will defeat the purpose of having "the peek" gesture experience on BB 10. And it should also work through out any running "apps", not just limited to the browser. Swipe from "Left" to "Right" and "Hold" will give you the "peek" to the hub, and swipe from "Right" to "Left" and "Hold" will take you to the "Active Frame" area. I got this idea from my good old Nokia N9 Meego :-) Check out this You Tube video, hopefully it will give you a visual idea with what I tried to describe above:

I sincerely hope RIM will put their finest magic touch on BB 10 devices next year, I will definitely get the full touch version of the phone to replace my Torch 9800 and my N9.

Go RIM!!!!

I have a different opinion. I actually think the best way to swipe is the EXACT physical manor in which it's done in portrait. So when it's in landscape it would be using your right hand and swiping LEFT and UP. Just because i like things complicated

Lots of great ideas....whatever it ends up being it should work the same. I have a 4s and some functions work in both portrait and landscape while other do not. Drives me crazy....worse yet is FaceBook did an update and now I can't type or post in landscape....major pain...especially with their ridiculous spell check and my large fingers. Awesome site by the way.

So everything will work the same as the touch device in portrait? All the gestures etc. will be the same?

This is a no brainer. The peek gesture is meant for one handed use. If you are in landscape mode, then you are using two hands.

This is IMHO a simple desktop issue. As of now, it cannot be displayed in landscape.
Once this will be implemented (I sincerely hope it will), all gesture will follow accordingly.
But this is the type of implementation you have to do ... at the end of the UI design (when all the "layout" is fixed).
In various SDKs it has been an issue since now (problem with correct resize, related to pixel density handling). So far I know, this issue has been addressed in Webworks, and I believe in other SDKs too. So it should be a matter of time until we can see desktop landscape mode.

How about the other apps and bbm.. Is there any demo how they work and their appearence in landscape? I want to see it... I hope there would be a great user experience too in landscape mode... Especially since bb10 is going to the playbook too...

A simple controlled swipe from left to right should be the way it works regardless of orientation. Up and over just doesn't look very fluid to me and obviously doesn't have enough real estate to work in landscape. If you you have to change gestures when you change orientation you interrupt the flow.

What has been working on PlayBook is a slide down from one of the top corners to show message icons and time/date etc. I'd be happy with the same on the phone (I think as I do not have a DA)

Just a comment to the guy above. While the orientation may have changed, a swipe from the top left would actually be the same corner as portrait mode. So it may be changing the corner relative to portrait to landscape (bottom left to top left) but the actual corner remains the same.

This method offers the real estate to show message data that isn't constrained by the smaller width of the phone

It's got to work in an identical fashion in both landscape and portrait mode. You don't want to complicate the UI nor be constantly thinking how you activate a particular function. It has to become second nature. Plain and simple!

Just curious how these gestures will be integrated into the QWERTY keyboard version of BB10 hardware... It seems like the UI becomes really reliant on these gestures that I think would be a little awkward if there is a keyboard below the screen. Anybody how they will work around this?

Kevin, can you give more info?
Is there bezel room to operate swipe from the sides?
will all apps / hub be visible in landscape?
If the bezel room is not there I suggest using the exact same gesture as when in portrate, don't over complicate it. ease of use is the one thing that makes the iphone popular. Please keep things simple and easy, I want BB10 to succeed!!

I have had all three full touchscreen BB's so far and most games work fine if they are designed that way, but not all apps work fluidly and I suspect this is because until now (I don't think RIM) was fully comited to the all touch screen device. They just don't have it yet on the Torch, like 95% there. Hopefully BB10 will nail it, but from the video above not ready yet.

I've just sat down watched your video and thought how could bb hit the nail on the head with landscape peek... and i've only come to the conclusion.. while in landscape mode why cant peek come into the screen by not swiping left or right but diagonally from the top left corner.

This will allow peek to be used and instead of displaying the bb hub in 1 list.. you could have 2 columns so peak could be displayed literally on the whole screen but you make sure you stay an inch away at most from the bottom right corner when swiping diagonally from the top left corner.

This is definitely something that could be done and i feel it would be cool and at the same time you will be able to use landscape peek.

I have played around a bit with the dev alpha, and feel that doing the swipe in reverse of the portrait feel pretty good.

swiping from the right to the left then down.
I have had no problem doing it that way in landscape while holding it with only one hand and swiping with the same hand.

if the peek comes from the top then we would be able to see the most recent compared to if the peek came from the bottom.

I regularly use the forefinger from top corners on the playbook to kind of initiate a peek like gesture mostly to check the battery or incoming notification kind.
I also use the forefinger to reach the app menu. But on the bb10, i find the side bezels too small to do anything with them in landscape. Well i'm exaggerating, but i'm not sure i want to trade 1 finger use in portrait to larger bezel for landscape. Quite the opposite, i would rather wish no bezel to hold it comfortably while doing the peek gesture with a single small hand.
On the playbook, I use the thumb with a swipe for left or right border to switch apps a lot, and i miss it on the bb10, whereas i don't why it couldn't be added.
So whilst it would be natural sticking to the portrait bezel function with right thumb for menu, and right thumb for peeking (maybe unnaturally unrolling hub from left then but at least with no masking), i wonder if corners would be used to trigger menus or initiate a peek and plain side to switch. I'm also thinking that pure left side swipe to get menu and peek from right swipe would be quite similar to win8.
I wonder if an accelerometer wisplash like based gesture (up or down ) to switch apps could be a good replacement to a side swipe, eliminating the need for a portrait side bezel to reduce phone width.
The other landscape possibility i can think of is a blocked horizontal swipe (peek) from right to both see hub on top and prev app on left and next app on right, then either i go down to see more of the hub. And even more down and release to go to the hub. Or swipe a bit more to the left and release to switch to the right app. Or swipe backward to the left and release to go to the left app. Or i release to stay on the current app. The left thumb would be used to get what used to be the top menu, but that would now appear on the left side.

To make a long story short? Here's my final thought if anyone cares reading more !
Portrait (right thumb in bottom)
Peek shows short hub+next app on bottom+prev app on top (neutral view), held position is center of a then 4 direction menu.
Up = show more of bottom app, release switch to it, back to menu center is back to neutral position,
Down = show more of top app, release = switch to it
Right = show more of hub, release go to hub
Left shows active frames, release go to active frames
Release in center = stay in the app.

The rotating the phone to the left. The right thumb is still on the peek bezel. And now the left thumb is on the top bezel. The left thumb can be used to show on left the app menu.
The right thumb starts a peek, neutral position is hub on left, prev app on top, next app on bottom, so that the 4 directions virtual menu acts:
Going left brings active frames,
Going right brings hub
Going down brings app above
Going up brings app on bottom

when in landscape, you should be able to grab the screen with two long thumb presses, then pull apart and down at the same time, when you do the center of the browser screen tears apart and gives you a Peek at the hub that way, when done, just let the browser go and it automatically seals itself back up. Kinda like a curtain pull, which is a Peek.

I have to agree with the playbook style gestures. Landscape and portrait should be the same. But you can't assume too much due to the bulky case around it.

i swear if it wasnt for crackberry kevin...i would of been going frm blackberry...(which is very hard to do) but im holding strong........i believe n blackberry!!!!!

I got it! it should look should work just like the Playbook or however the Playbook will operate with BB10. Dare you to say I am wrong.