Brainstorming BB10: You control the OS... it doesn't control you

By Kevin Michaluk on 27 Oct 2012 06:40 pm EDT

Continuing down the path of Brainstorming BB10 on the Dev Alpha B hardware, next up we're taking a look at how you can really "manipulate" the OS.

At this point I think all of us are getting familiar with the flowing nature of the BlackBerry 10. The flow is apparent as you move in and out of apps and peek into BlackBerry Hub. And we also looked at how the the flow experience continues within apps, as you can swipe back layers of the app with no need to tap a back button. Long story short, the flow rocks.

Beyond the flow, you also get this feeling as you use the BlackBerry 10 operating system that it really bends to your wishes as you swipe your fingers around. You can manipulate things on the screen that you might not think you'd be able to. In the video above I illustrate this notion within the calendar app and in the camera app, while browsing between photos. 

In the calendar app for example, as you swipe between upcoming appointments within the day view, you an actually "pull down" on the meetings for two days at once (literally as you're swiping between two days). Or within the photo app, you can zoom in and out of two photos at the same time as you're swiping in between them. Is there value to these bi-movements? I'm not sure honestly... with these two examples I don't see a massive benefit to being able to do it, but I do love that I can do it (be sure to watch the video so you get a clear visual for what I'm talking about).

Looking at iOS devices in comparison, I often get the feeling that I'm just there for the ride. Apple has determined one way for me to do everything, and I'm forced to ride down that path whether I like it or not. As you use BlackBerry 10, it's the opposite. You control the OS. It doesn't control you. And on BlackBerry 10, this you're in control experience starts even on the unlock screen, where the display really responds to your finger tip as you swipe in any upward direction to wake up the device. Compare that again to iOS where you swipe from left to right down a fixed path.

I really like this feeling of control within BlackBerry 10. The examples I provided here are subtle, but they reinforce this feeling of giving the user control over a powerful user experience.

Now onto the brainstorming... with the calendar app and photo app examples I illustrate here, I don't see a massive benefit to the ability to manipulate two pieces of data while transitioning between them (other than it looks cool). But I'm wondering if there are some examples you can think of where this ability would pay off in a big benefit? Be sure to leave any ideas in the comments. One thing is for sure... I'm starting to wish I was equally dominant with my left hand, so I could pinch and expand with equal dexterity on both hands. 

Reader comments

Brainstorming BB10: You control the OS... it doesn't control you


Freaking awesome for sure but I hope we get the same transition effects that we currently have when swiping between photos on the PlayBook.

LoL he does look like a troll doll. That was the first thing I thought too when I saw the pictures :D

Careful about the wording... Android is highly customizable so technically you control it more...
Just worried about a smear campaign from Samsung... Lol

I don't see much use for the photo portion, but for calendar or word editor I could see it like the Samsung Dual Screen feature they have now. (Which I think BlackBerry could do better...) Would be a great comparison tool.

Calendar, you could see what Monday and Tuesdays Agenda are at the same time and rearrange (maybe even with just "flick" or drag/drop gesture) your schedule without having to switch between days.

MS Word, you could scroll through one file, while editing a second one.

Certainly having half of a vertical screen isn't much relestate to perform actions, but on the Tablet, or horizontaly on the Alpha device might prove useful for some.

Hey Kevin. BB10 is gonna need a jingle. How about ''Black Sheep, this or that, the choice is yours?''
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

Kevin stop holding back. Show us more "features". This is nice, but this is just a spillover from adopting the QNX.

Yeah, Kevin! The task manager only shows 8 apps. If you have more than 8 apps open, what happens to the 9th app. How do you get back to it and bring it to the forefront? In some ways, I wish they had kept the PlayBook's app "carousel", but I see some benefits of this interface: active frames :)

He has said previously (in an earlier BB10 brainstorming video) that if you open a ninth app, the first one you opened will be closed. So the most recent app will close the oldest app if there is too many open.

It can be seen in actual videos when the OS is shown off by BB10 Devs. It doesn't "close" the oldest app.. It simply kicks it off the screen (an imaginary 9th/10th, etc. You just can't scroll to them). So if you close any of the 8 most recent running apps, it will kick back the "9th" most recent running app and make it the bottom-right (8th), so it doesn't just "close" it, they just allow it to show 8 at a time for optimal performance, but you can have many more than 8 apps running at the same time, phone just won't run the BEST if you have TOO many open, but they are still open nonetheless.

"Zoom in, zoom out, zoom in, zoomoutzoominzoomoutzoomzinzouzim..."
Kev, have you been drinkin? :D

Anyway, nice to see BB10 work so flawless

Zoom in, zoom out, zoom in, zoom out, guys like to go in and out of things. Sounds very sexual LOL.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

This may not sense on the phone but it might mean something different on the Playbook with the larger screen.

Kevin was using 4 fingers there. I'm wondering if this dual zoom feature will even work on the Playbook as I've never been able to use more than a 2 finger swipe on Playbook at once.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

Thanks for the heads up, I'll have to check that out.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

This would be nice in landscape if we could have two explorer -like apps running an drag n drop a file from a folder on one side (app1) to a folder on the other side (app2). Like windows explorer on a PC. Just one easy example. It's not 'useless' as one poster put it. It has potential to be very useful.

My first thought as well. If we are to get desktop-grade functionality out of a mobile OS (screen size notwithstanding) we need this - two independently controllable "instances" within an app or between apps.

It could be possible to sort of "click and hold" an element or file from one app, swipe to another app, "release and drop" in the second app. In most cases there are more efficient means of accessing other apps functionality through invocation, but it's a thought.

As mentioned in two comments above... yeah, more useful with more real estate... landscape or on tablet. Need room for more fingers.

It just makes me think of having split apps... two apps sharing the screen at once.

I think some guys are missing the point... It's not about whether this here in particular is useful or not. Rather, it goes to show the effort which RIM is putting designing the OS, taking care if the smallest details... Also shows the OS is really powerful. As for the 2 apps Kev used for example, it shows that the OS is fluid and alive... AWESOME! can't wait for bb10!

exactly, just because the OS is powerful enough to do stuff like that means that developers are not limited by as much barriers. Apps and games in particular can be as great as the dev's imagination!!!

Kevin, with the possibility of no trackpad on the N device, how about seeing how easy it is to place a cursor within text, to edit a document. Also, how easy it is to place that cursor in there and copy and paste?. That was one of the greatest features of my 9650 and 9900, and frankly, its a pain in iOS, compared to our "old" blackberries. All these new features are great, but some of the simple pleasures, make/made using a blackberry so efficient.

It'll be very useful if the put in a way to hold if half transitioned without having to hold your finger down... Drag n drop between folders, super easy cut and paste, easy message forwarding, uploading photos and videos to social media apps, etc.

Looking at the title of this it appears there is no brainstorming needed. This is blackberry 10, the most powerful mobile computing software ever created. Its a no brainer that we control the OS and it does not control us. I like the example of the iOS unlock screen vs blackberry 10. For iOS its something along the lines of, "oh,oh,oh...don't go out of the lines! If you go out of the lines your going to have to take another swipe. Be careful! Oh heavens, you went out of the line near the end of your swipe! Try again!be careful not to go out of the lines for slide to unlock. Its like a childrens colouring book with crayons to unlock, not an empty canvas!" Blackberry 10: swipe to unlock.

I agree with NateFulton2010. This can become the starters of a dualscreen/splitscreen features from Samsung or MS Surface.

Some cool possibilities but right now it just seems like when the Playbook was announced, people were saying yeah but I can watch 2 movies, listen to a song and send a text message. Some people said who in the world does that? PB owners said well its cool that we can.

Although this does show the power it seems pretty useless. IMO.

Just played with Surface today with RT. I think RIM can make use of the dual-window mode (i.e. allow a user to look at two things at the same time on the screen). It should be doable since all of the apps on BB10/PlayBook OS are running...

i think that feature you demoed in the video might be a little bit more of a glitch then the way it was programmed, i can see the peak being able to work well but the zooming i think thats just a happy coincidence as it appeared that if the image wasing in the right spot it wouldn't allow you to control both images.

either way it shows how well BB10 is with multitasking and its ability to control two different things at once, even if its just a sort of bug

Cool, I can see the use in calenders moving info from one day into another day.
Photo editing.
But the real use would be in apps , where you can revove one item eg a stock ticker tape in a stockmarket app.


I see this as a Power User feature. For the average BB user all the extra QWERTY keyboard functions in BBOS seemed superfluous but for the BB Power User they formed an indispensable part of the productivity tools. Review Kevins post "10 Things We'll Lose With BB10", perhaps this is one of the features BB10 brings to address the loss of some of the key productivity features used in BBOS. Taken in isolation some of the leaked features might seem pointless but remember we haven't seen everything BB10 is bringing to the devices, there may be other features used in conjunction with this one that will compensate for the loss of the legacy BBOS features, which further improve and enhance the BlackBerry user experience. We need to stop thinking In and Out (BBOS, iOS, Android, WP8) and start thinking Peek and Flow. BB10 is the future of mobile interfacing.

Kevin, all gestures for Peek and Flow seemed to be designed for righted handed folks. Will you be able to set the direction of Peek and Flow for lefties?

Interesting, but I'm curious about another thing (if I missed it elsewhere please let me know): arrow or tab keys on a keyboard for use in spreadsheets. I use Excel a lot, and would love to be able to navigate within a table without having to press my fat fingertips on a dinky cell. Slow and error-prone!

I like the idea of what they're doing with the Flow UI. Doesn't seem to be a value-added feature at this point, but it could turn into something more useful. For example, it could evolve into something like being able to edit one photo while having another photo serve as a template. It is a good start.

kevin, maybe you should make that video in landscape mode. because comparing two schedules or photos will be better if you can see more of both of what you compared. it should be useful for people who need to set a schedule and can't be sure when to do it and then comparing two schedule to find which day he/she should put the schedule. comparing two photos can be useful if you don't sure which is better to use. i find it will be useful for me at least, as i always make sure to do things better/use things better, i usually ended up comparing two or more things lol.

If i'm composing an email and can just slide over to a dictionary, thesaurus, or translator app and use both almost simultaneously, I'd be happy. Having to go back and forth for that through a home button or more is defeating the purpose of interacting with related apps. Same for Photo/eMail, Converter/calc//spreadsheet, Timer/spreadsheet or notes, and so on. Might almost make up for no tracpad.

Hey Kelvin, or does anyone know...if you can pause/play downloads (using the browser) i.e downloading song and videos and stuff on BB10.....I would really love if we could finally do that!

Might be cool for maps. Large scale on one and create a small scale or satellite expanded view, etc., on another. I've wanted something like this feature on the PB where I'm composing an email while getting info for it from a website page.

but it does show off the readiness of the next screen/window as you move it across. you can start zooming before you've finished your swipe. mainly for those of us who have a need for speed... or for those of us who can see ahead of time what's coming and anticipate their moves accordingly.
Thanks Kev for another taster... keep 'em coming... one a week will keep me happy

I love to ability to manipulate and the full user control. My concern is that this type of manipulation takes processing power. Of course it works great on the Dev Alpha device, but what happens when you load it up with apps? If the architecture of the current BB's are any indication all this functionality would grind to a halt. Are there any details on how the BB 10 will manage memory allocation so that it won't constantly hang up and slow down like current devices?