Brainstorming BlackBerry 10: InterActive Frames could take current Active Frames to the next level for BB10.1 or 11

By Kevin Michaluk on 17 Nov 2012 02:34 pm EST

InterActive Frames for BlackBerry 11

We're all counting down the days until BlackBerry 10 is in our hands (notice the nice new countdown clock on the CrackBerry homepage?!), but already our members are thinking ahead about how BlackBerry can further enhance the experience.

Cruising through the CrackBerry Forums this morning I stumbled upon this thread in our BlackBerry L-Series forum by member lucky-lad, which proposes enhancements to the current Active Frame layout in BlackBerry 10.

Instead of the vertical split screen 4x4 grid of BB10, lucky-lad's concept is to make the Active Frames wider and less tall, per his mockup above. He also proposes that the next generation of Active Frames could evolve to become InterActive Frames. Looking at the illustration above for example, instead of having to go into the Music app to control it, Play/Pause/Skip functions could be tapped within the InterActive Frame. In the calendar InterActive Frame, curling back on the edge would reveal the next calendar appointment. Tapping on non-action parts of the InterActive Frame would take you straight into the app, as is the case with the current BB10 Active Frame design.

With this layout lucky-lad managed to get 5 Active Frames on one view as well. On BlackBerry 10 the current max number of Active Frames to be displayed is eight, though it would be cool if this number could be expanded up to 10. 10 Active Frames for BlackBerry 10, right?

As noted on the forum thread by member Qaxl, with this type of layout you could even further enhance the experience by allowing users to dictate the size of an InterActive Frame.

Under this notion, InterActive Frames really become a mashup of Android-style widgets and Windows Phone 8 Live tiles in a way that is uniquely BlackBerry. In reality these are minimized running apps showing an alternate version of the full app display, and they are going to move around on you as you open and close apps (the most recently used at the top), but they become even more powerful than Active Frames to the user for that glance, control, or go functionality that's all part of the flow. Say that three times fast.

It's a fun thought. And we love Brainstorming BB10 around here. Maybe this is one for BlackBerry 10.1 or 10.2 or BlackBerry 11. What do you think? Sound off in the comments or jump in on the forum action at the link below.

More Discussion on InterActive Frames in the CrackBerry Forums

Reader comments

Brainstorming BlackBerry 10: InterActive Frames could take current Active Frames to the next level for BB10.1 or 11


On another note...looking at the mock up the only thing we haven't really seen is the play/pause buttons. My understanding is that other apps already display their vital information and updates in its active frame. Instead of just being told information and GIVING it input like they play/fast forward I think is a nifty idea. I'm brain storming myself right now to think of other uses for input of information into an active frame

I had the exact same though, the play/pause/forward button are the only new ones, besides the design. Witch I actually like and think would be a great addition to bb10

A very Interesting post Kevin and I am already buying into the idea of having 'Interactive Frames' and that countdown timer on the homepage has been making me even more 'Impatient' about BB10 ... seems toooo long a wait!! lol

Blackberry 8320!!!
Rim # 1

I agree that interactive frames are an interesting idea; but my concern is the battery drain. My experience with active apps has always been to kill the battery in no time.

Someone already posted this, but the apps are already, active in the background, aren't they? In any case, I do think more battery drain would result from the added functionality. Maybe not a lot, but what do I know? I'm not a programmer. :P

My concern would be the added clutter that could happen. The screen is big, but it's not THAT big. Adding a bunch of micro buttons may make the interactivity a little difficult to accomplish.

Personally, I like the layout and form the phone has now. Honestly, I don't know what kind of interactivity one could get out of other apps besides perhaps media like music and video. With that stuff, aren't there the side buttons and corner swipes? I don't particularly see a need for that interactivity since the functionality is already there in other places and they're easy enough to get to.

Simplicity. That's what I want. It makes getting to my stuff quick and easy. I don't want or need the OS bogging me down. If that kind of interactivity is added, I want the ability to turn it off.

I guess Flexibility and Customization ability would earn RIM a lot of Brownie points.

Hope they have come to a good middle ground of having active apps and battery life with displaying 8 'Active Frames'. Battery life is paramount to many end users.

Blackberry 8320!!!
Rim # 1

Active frames will already do this, what you're asking for are Widgets...

"The new homescreen in BB10 enables applications to show relevant UI when mimized, (sic) a feature called Active Frames. Cascades lets the developer use static images or a completely dedicated UI tree to present itself when minimized."

Native apps will already work this way *rolls eyes*

Sent via Blackberry 9900

Unfortunately for us, Native Apps will not work this way.

In The 10, the active frame will, as you said, display static images or can display other information that the developer wishes it to. However, what is being discussed above are frame that you can interact with, rather than just display information.

For example, in this concept you can touch a button inside the active frame to pause a song, rather than touching the active frame and entering the app to change the song.

I don't know about "great", seems like things could look real messy in a hurry. The biggest question I have is what if the app doesn't have an alternative design for the active frame state? Right now, active frames have the same ratio as full screen apps, so if an app has no alternative design, it can still be displayed in an active frame as normal, just smaller. So, how would 9x16 ratio active frames blend with these much wider active frames?

Odd for some reason, I assumed partial interactivity to be implemented for some apps ie Music/View play/pause/next functions. What becomes an issue if the OS has to be able to differentiate between touch activity in Active Frame mode or if the user wants to expand the app.

if anything, this design is much more appealing to the eyes than whats currently on the dev alpha devices. i can see myself enjoying the added functionality as well, lets hope something similar actually makes it in future releases

Why take something from IOS 6 and slap some frames in it. I find it useless on the iphone when you swipe down to see the weather etc. Rim needs to do their own thing and be unique. This is not the way to go. Must have needed a article for Saturday..

Looks like Winamp to me .. much more refinement needed...

It's hard to fully innovate, most cases you have to build on something existing.. but you are right, RIM needs to "TRY" and come up with something totally different.. I like the whole BB10 idea.. BUT If it's gonna look like something from the past makes no sense..

Interactive frames is an awesome idea! You don't even have to switch between tasks anymore. Soon we'll have super information overload lol! Just stare are your smartphone all day and absorb as much as you can! RSS feeds, tweets, movies, gps updates, sports scores...

I don't like it. BlackBerry10 needs to be BlackBerry10. What I see above me is Android.

RIM needs to make sure people know the difference. BlackBerry10 needs to separate itself from the pack not become like them.

Brainstorming is always good and there is always room for improvement but this wouldn't be a "interactive active frame " it would be a Android widget look alike.

Well the active frames right now are more of an Android widget with less functionality... I really think this is a good addition to the frames and would actually like to see this come to BB10... it would actually make the active frames much more useful IMO.

I somewhat agree with BB-Bmore! The concept of having interactive active frames for a few(calendar,media player) sounds nice but at the same time it's not BB10!If the most recent active frame launched goes in the top left corner where will the interactive active frame go?Does this intractive active frame stay in the same position it was launched?Because if I swipe up to minimize my app to an active frame by changing the action for another active frame somehow to me disrupts the rhythm and flow of things. However,that's just my opinion!Kevin walked through the flow of BB10 effortlessly.....he had a rhythm!

Touching on this new lay-out of the active frames I must say that I prefer RIM's lay-out!I believe RIM is trying to achieve a clutter free looking OS.Dont get me wrong folks....I know this is a mock up but the spacing between the tiles are equally important.This one here seems like info from one frame is leaking into another frame and you have to stress yourself to differentiate between the two.

What we're doing here is comparing the quality of two screens without having them next to each other.....thats's like going into Best Buy and looking at a LG flat panel LCD and then going to to WalMart and looking at a Samsung Flat panel and think you can register in your mind the weaknesses and strengths of both brands.

On the PlayBook I can have music playing while browsing or Playing a game and simply swipe diagonal from the top right corner down and pause skip etc music while never really leaving what I was doing. Surely there will be something like this in BlackBerry10?

This does look nice but it goes against the flow of BB10 by having active frames and app icons share a similar shape. I like the idea of making the active frames "inter"active frames though but I also like the idea of them being a consistent shape.... helps keep the OS looking clean and fluid.

WOW! That's creativity to the fullest. The good thing is that BlackBerry listens to it's users. Thus, I believe this could be a reality in the near future. Keep up the good work everyone!

If it's anything like it is on Android, this could get annoying. Sometimes on Android as I swipe through homescreens, some widgets will take the swipe action instead. Besides that, I can picture this bogging down overall system performance, eating through the battery with the application always running like this.

You do understand that active frames is still the application fully running in the background in a minimized state right? That's the point of the real time multi tasking of BB10. The application runs in the background and not in a paused state. So when you open back up the open frame you are back where you left off. Think of it like when you hit alt tab in windows. All those apps are still running in windows. All you see though is a picture to represent the app. Except active frames allow for certain info to be displayed in them. That's why they are "active".

I think the added battery drain would come from more processor time being used to add more functionality to the frame to make it interactive. I'm not a programmer or anything, but I would think that it would drain the battery even more by having more than just a static image or occasional feed update.

It does really look like widgets on symbian. I think what RIM should do is to offer options as to how big the active frame, similar to android widgets and windows phone livetiles.

Great mock-up, great brainstorming. Now I like this allot! Who cares if it looks like symbian or others. IT'S AWESOME!!!! Stop worrying so much.

That's a cool idea, but I like the regular setup for active frames better. However, the design of these frames with the slightly rounded edges should be how the icons and active frames should look like on the current version. Anyway it's good to brainstorm and always fun to read these articles =)

There are two separate idea's here. One is being able the work in the minimized view, this is the future for sure. You would need an easy indicator like a quick double tap to show that you did not want to maximize but wanted to stay in the minimized state.

The second idea is having the active frames stacked on top of each other. This makes sense for message based apps as shown. The only thing I would say is the current 4 square format might present a slightly easier target to hit when you are stressed, multitasking, and on the go; you only need to tap the right quadrant versus a slightly narrower target as the longer rectangles above represent.

This is kinda between the current PlayBook carousel and Active Frames but adding interactivity :) Love it! To make it work well, these frames should be the same size though. Even just having a min & max size can be problematic from a logistical aspect. Why should some apps consume more space than others? Each should be given a fixed space. Don't like the varying tile sizes in Windows 8. Some apps have nothing to show but just take up more space!

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Let's call it what it is. It is a WIDGET there is nothing you can tell me otherwise. RIM would be heading the wrong direction by following normalcy. We are just excited because we are RIM loyalists who want to see something like this on a BlackBerry. But this is a BAD idea!!!! It brings nothing new to the table.

The LG Optimus allows you to send a text while you watch a video. A semi transparent text field will pop up over the video while it's running. This is already available now in 2012 folks!!! RIM has to deliver the goods in 2013. Widgets will not get the job done and it's dangerously close to a lawsuit by GOOG.


Sorry, too much like the Android widgets... I don't really like this style.

They should take what Playbook has right now and make it vertical! I wish I had time to do some photo editing right now but just imagine.. You know how Playbook has the horizontal layout to go through all the active apps? Take that and make it vertical for the phones!

Is the finger print reader on this software?

And can I please have some folders for my pictures and videos? With optional passwords for my different folders as I am FBI and these need to be kept secret.

We are all excited about balance. 250,000 BB10 units please.

personally I like how active frames look now. I don't see the need for more interactivity. Just adding more chaos to an already nice clean interface. somebody could make an app though that creates more widgety-like UI for people that like that kind of thing.


The music and video would still play while suspended in an active frame. Plus we can use the volume keys to play pause and skip to the next or previous song. I use this feature without even taking my 9900 out of the case while at the gym. Let's keep it practical RIM.


The idea sounds good, but I too believe that it is like Widgets on Android. BlackBerry users don't want to be like everyone else. We want people to take example from us.

Still, it is always good to brainstorm...therefore, the user who came up with this idea and created this picture deserves respect.


These concept designs/prototypes by designers are pointless. Native developers already have access to Active Frames. There do no appear to be any significant changes planned for Active Frames. APIs have already been released.

Stop mocking up iOs garbage.

Imagine a Bloomberg app running a news feed on a certain sector or switch it to a running stock ticker and your one tap away from the full app

I need my BB10 asap !

This would be very neat.

If it could be made so that the active frames could be customized to be the box style of 8 or the rectangle style of 5, then that would be an awesome addition.

How about reading a PDF in text form only then your one tap away from the full PDF

For the battery issue, since I bought my large SEIDIO battery and case on Crackberry , My BOLD 9900 experience has been just awesome !! All my buddies who bought the battery just love it , Folks I charge it every two and sometimes three days and it improves the performance of the phone. So I smell a BB10 SEIDIO battery around the corner !

I want my BB10 asap !!

When it comes to a music player, windows phone has the best/logical experience. Press volume button and a tray comes down from the top. On it, you can press back/pause&play/skip, and press the name of the song to jump to the player from anywhere!

I was actually thinking about this a few months back. I would love to be able to select different aspect ratios for different apps for the active frames, assuming they supported it. I would want facebook, twitter, RSS etc to be horizontal like the above and be able to scroll in them. But maybe the weather app would be better with the default ratio.

Think this is a great idea! I know Active frames will show real time updates in the minimalised state, but would LOVE if certain features such as play/fwd/pause on an music player, etc would be functional on Active Frames as well.

While this sounds like a grand idea open to myriad possibilities, I'm concerned about the impact on battery life..I want functionality first and not at the expense of battery life...the battery life of BB10 had better not remind me of this 9900..I hav 2 batteries that don't make 1!! Battery life is definitely my dealbreaker with BB10...I'll hav a gr8 look b4 my cash is splashed!

I'm not sure how bb10 currently handles this but I would like to see the ability to drag one frame into the next. This could be used when composing an email; if I had a picture up in a frame I should be able to drag it into the email frame and it automatically attaches it to the message.

I often attach contacts and pdf's to my emails. This would make it that much simpler and I think it would go with that whole mobile computing theme. Drag and drop!

As for the frames themselves, I like how they are now and the fact that you don't have to worry about hitting a tiny window. I'm not bothered either way (I'm a keyboard guy myself) but older people and people with larger fingers need the big square boxes.


I like the idea a lot, but I think there should be a standard button / swipe action that will launch into the app rather than interact with the frame: it can't be left up to the individual software developer how an Interactive frame acts: the default touch action should ALWAYS be to go to the app, and the default swipe action is, I think, to remove the tile or shut down the running app? Not sure, but consistency is vital: if each little tile is going to be like a window, then consistency on how you interact with the objects at a high-level is vital.


There would definitely need to be some consistency. Maybe single tapping by default but no matter what a double tap would always open the app.