Since BlackBerry Jam Americas, I've been been spending some quality time on the Dev Alpha B hardware. Overall I am loving the Hub and Flow and Peek features that shape the BlackBerry 10 experience. Knowing that what I'm playing with is a limited BB10 preview build, I'm by no means in review mode as I use the device. But that doesn't stop my mind from brainstorming ideas on how to further refine the user experience.
One such idea is in regards to Active Frames. Active Frames is the name given to the minimized running apps on BlackBerry 10. Remember, they are not widgets or tiles, but rather are running apps showing an alternate state for their minimized size. Tapping on Active Frame immediately takes you back into the full size app. There's no loading here. It's instant.
As of now on BlackBerry 10, you can have up to eight Active Frames open at the same time. The Active Frames display by recency. The app you've opened last shows at the top left corner, and you work across and down from there. If a ninth app is opened, the oldest open app, which is the app showing in the bottom right corner of the open eight, is removed from the Active Frames view.
In practice, I've found this setup for Active Frames to be intuitive and friendly to use. It makes sense that what you're doing right now always shows at the top. Even though the Active Frames are constantly moving around as you flow between multiple apps, I haven't found myself wasting time hunting for an app that I want at that moment. What I want always seems to be right there.
That all said, I know many CrackBerry readers have expressed some concern over this always-changing layout of the Active Frame screen and the notion of having the ninth app causing the the closure of the eighth oldest open app.
Is this a valid concern? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, I have a potential solution for it... the ability to "pin" or "hang" (as suggested in the comments below) an Active Frame open.
Follow me here... think about the main app icon tray, where you tap and hold on an icon which puts them into an editing state. Once in the editing state, you can rearrange icons or put them into folders, etc. By extension of this functionality, I think it would be sweet if you could tap and hold on an Active Frame, thus putting it into an edit state. And from there, a "pin" icon could be added to any active frame. Once an app is pinned, it would go to the top of the Active Frames view and always be in that location and open. In other words, it's immune to be closed off the Active Frames list as you continue to open and use more and more apps. So if you always want BBM or your Web Browser or anything to always be open and right there accessible, it can be.
Make sense? Good idea? Confused? It's definitely a confusing thing to read bout, so be sure sure to check out the video above to match the explanation to some visuals. I think it'll all make sense then. Be sure to let me know what you think of this one in the comments!