Focusing on the fine points: BlackBerry 10 home screen needs to be visually stunning

BlackBerry 10
By Chris Umiastowski on 2 Nov 2012 03:29 pm EDT
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We've all seen the demos of BlackBerry 10 on dev alpha hardware. It looks good, no question. But I'm worried. The marketing has to be strong. And as a student of marketing, I've come to adopt the view that everything is marketing. This is a concept that was explained beautifully in the book "Rework", by the founders of 37 Signals.

If you adopt the view that everything is marketing, then the the look of the home screen of a new mobile OS seems pretty darn important. It's the first thing people will see when they look at the screen. It's the most likely photo to show up in a blog post, newspaper story or TV commercial.

So need I really say this? If the home screen icons look like crap, people will think your device and OS is crap. These assumptions happen unconsciously and nearly instantaneously. A product designer who thinks like a marketer will prevent this from happening.

Enter BlackBerry 10.

CrackBerry.com held a poll asking you for your opinion on the BlackBerry 10 icons. We've seen two iterations of icons so far, and most of you think the current icons are horrible.

I agree, and I refuse to sugar coat it. Kevin was kind to say he's "less fond" of the new icons. I personally think they're flat out ugly, and I'm a little worried that RIM doesn't get the importance of making absolutely everything look amazing.

We get that RIM wants to create a sense of continuity between icons and Active Frames, as Kevin already explained in the post that accompanied the above-mentioned poll. But that's no excuse to settle for horrible design.

I'm the first to admit that I have zero artistic skill. But when my gut tells me something is ugly, and a poll of over 9000 CrackBerry readers confirms my feeling, something has to change.

I think the current home screen design looks clunky, old, and far from modern and fresh. I'm not sure if it's just the icons, or if it's how they blend with the lighter blue background color that RIM is now using on the home screen. The color scheme seems horribly bland to me.

BlackBerry 10 

My message to RIM is simple. Start focusing more on the small things. They matter, especially when they are part of the first impression. Perhaps the home screen you're showing off isn't final. At CrackBerry we understand everything we have seen to date in BlackBerry 10 is pre-release and may change -- whether a little or a lot -- by launch. But the public believes it's moving backwards. That's not good. It's not that RIM needs a fresh team of designers. You have them. We have seen a lot of great visually stimulating ideas come from the folks at The Astonishing Tribe (aka RIM Sweden). Unleash that talent. Don't reign it in nor hold it back. Have several new variations of designs made. Get 18 year old kids to vote on them, not the older crowd. Then you'll be set to go to market with a phone that looks sexy in photos. The flow experience is unique and amazing. It needs visuals that match it. But the way the home screen is presented today looks as if it's old and is due for a refresh, even before BlackBerry 10 has gone to market. It needs to change.

Update from Kevin: So it appears RIM is responding already here to our desire for an updated homescreen look, as just yesterday they announced on their dev blog that they will be changing the size of the icons on the application grid. Odds are good then we'll see new creative hit, and hopefully it'll feature a sexier look. That being the case, it doesn't really change Chris' overall message in this post, which is that RIM needs to be acutely aware that anything they make public will be judged by people -- whether final or prerelease -- and that they need to be making their homescreen experience look sexy from day one. The boxy icons should never have seen the time of day to begin with, and as a result shouldn't have been needed to be changed. *

Reader comments

Focusing on the fine points: BlackBerry 10 home screen needs to be visually stunning

129 Comments

I thought the CrackBerry team had all these contacts? I wouldnt think whether released designs are final or not is the most guarded secret out there.

Why do people always seem to think we sign we have an NDA? No NDA. Sometimes we'll verbally agree to things, which all bloggers do with all tech sites these days... please hold these embargo dates, we'll show you this but don't say anything, etc.  But blanket NDA? Nope. 

Also, aside from the icons which may be changing, the "action bar" needs to die by fire!

Make it easily accessible by hiding it in the peek. Plus, make it more like the Playbook dock where the USER can choose what icons go there. For reference see MeeGo Harmaten. Have an "action bar" that is hidden but like the hub can be accessed from any app using the peek gesture. This would clean up the look and add even more customization options to the OS.

Please listen to Chris and all of us in the BlackBerry Nation and really spend the next 3 months polishing and focusing on the little details that matter and make the OS a work of art to look at and an absolute joy to use.

In the previews we've had... with Dev Alphas, etc. of BB10, it's never been explicitly stated during the demos that they were placeholders and that something else was definitely coming. IT was shown off as an early look at BB10. That didn't mean there were not plans to change it to something else by the time bb10 launches -- maybe there were or are now -- but as it was shown off it was shown off as BB10.

There was never a statement given like.. "hey you're looking at bb10, but picture different icons and active frame as these were just placeholders". I think if that was intended, we would have heard that.

So per chris' article, any normal person looking at what we've seen of bb10 to date could cast judgement on the look of the OS and be in the right... even if there will be updates.  Which gets back to Chris' point here... that RIM needs to know whatever they put out there will get judged, so it's all gotta be smexy! 

Maybe this whole issue goes back to the point Chris keeps making about RIM's communication still not being quite where it needs to be. I almost find it hard to believe anyone ever thought these icons were visually appealing enough but maybe RIM just wasn't clear about the fact they were holding back the final design. Another possibility is that they don't want you to use the icon list so they didn't make it a focus because you are 'always in' as Thor says. People coming from iOS though are going to think about the BB10 icon screen initially the same way though so it has to be visually attractive.

Maybe I'm missing something, but why would RIM communicate ANYTHING about BB10 visuals outside of UI guidelines?

Wouldn't they want to keep details about the "look" of BB10 under wraps as long as possible? My fear is that if they leaked too much, too soon then there would be no novelty at all once the final release is revealed.

I agree, i find it hard to believe that RIM would preview the final UI design work on pre-release demos. It would be a perplexing (flat) big BB10 launch if past demos were the final UI.

I totally disagree. The Dev Alpha B is the perfect opportunity to get some honest feedback on, not only the visual aspect of the OS, but the usability and even the hardware from a small group of devout BlackBerry users before releasing it to the world only to find out that nobody likes it.
Make the tweaks now and release the design liked by most.

I gotta agree there. RIM does not have the limitless resources Microsoft does to force feed the public a UI no one likes for 5 years until people finally learn to tolerate it. RIM needs to have a UI that appeals to the majority of people on day one. So it's good that they do appear to be listening and taking feedback to heart and making adjustments so that the final product has the absolute best chance of success.

RIM is the David in an arena full of Goliaths.

Agree with with everything, especially the last line. I just think maybe the actual design feedback should be done in a closed setting. Focus group style. Set up town hall type gatherings where people get to play with,use the product for a while and then give feedback. That way you don't let them (the phones) out into the wild but you may get useful feedback from people who are not totally familiar with the technology yet, unlike the RIM employee testers who know it very well and can potentially gloss over things that might be significant.
From my BB10 expectant BlackBerry Playbook

The entire UI is TAT. TAT, Now RIM Sweden, is group responsible for the user experience and the whole thing is built with Cascades in open GL. So TAT are the ones who did the UI. See kevin's posts showing off the little menu flourishes and the ability to manipulate two pictures at once while scrolling through the gallery. That's cascades and that's TAT. But they got the chunky look a little wrong.

The active frames can loose the plaques at the bottom and so can the icons. they should make the action bar accessible through peek and user customizable instead of three predefined white icons and a permanent eye sore on the app screen. I mean I don't want to have to minimize an app and then scroll over to make a call using the action bar. I want to just use one gesture from anywhere to make a call if I need to which is why the action bar belongs in the peek not just plastered to the app drawer.

yea they need to focus on software graphic design a bit here it has to appeal to everyone not just BB users

Well considering just yesterday they announced a new icon size I'd say it is safe to say these icons are NOT the final ones. Perhaps you should check out the Dev blogs/sites before writing these types of articles.

I would venture to say we haven't seen much of BB10 even though we think we have...

I think the current homescreen is dull, as well. I want BlackBerry 10 to come out strong without any excuses!

100% correct, sir. We haven't seen anything yet. And on that note, I would really prefer if RIM would do everything in its power to not let anything leak between now and March. All the Apple leaks prior to the latest product announcements were embarassing and completely take away from the wow factor. Plus it just looks sloppy. Control your employees and supply chains.

You're right. They may absolutely change. However, Chris was absolutely correct to bring this up NOW. If for some unknown reason, this is the path they were going down, it needs to be said loud and clear that the icons shown thus far are butt ugly and need to be changed to something beautiful.

Like I said they changed YESTERDAY, he is commented on an UI that came out a MONTH ago... so he is wrong NOW.

But I guess I'll crawl back into my hole and get back to developing my apps... :-/

I agree with you because I just read about the changes in this very forum. And the original OP even placed some examples of the changes with screenshots to give an idea of how this might look.

So the real issue is why rile up the unread masses with an article on an out of date UI?

Actually, NOW is NOT the time to bring it up. The time to bring it up might have been maybe 3-6 months ago.

If RIM wants to make its Q1 launch target, then these details would be pretty much final by now.

Providing they keep the names of stuff the same (minimising translation issues) things like the basic look can be tweaked prior to the release as both their internal beta pool increases in size and they respond to carrier and other public feedback.

One other thing to consider, they are going to want as much consistency between both this one and the qwerty device and that one is going to need much smaller icons or otherwise you would only fit about 2 rows of them on the screen due to the much shorter display.

I still think the app home screen looks lame -- too iPhone and Android ish! There must be a better way to display apps on the screen. I see this as a downgrade from BB7 and PlayBook OS.

On another note, will app icons be active like in BB7? I like info such as temperature, # of running apps, weather info, etc. displayed in the icon.

Someone needs to ask QuIcKsIlV3r to ask his source if these are final icons used in the final release.

Just to get his attention.

QuIcKsIlV3r QuIcKsIlV3r
QuIcKsIlV3r QuIcKsIlV3r
QuIcKsIlV3r QuIcKsIlV3r
QuIcKsIlV3r QuIcKsIlV3r
QuIcKsIlV3r QuIcKsIlV3r
QuIcKsIlV3r QuIcKsIlV3r
QuIcKsIlV3r QuIcKsIlV3r
QuIcKsIlV3r QuIcKsIlV3r

Although this is off-topic, I have another question for QuIcKsIlV3r:

What's the latest scoop on Skype in BB10??? Or a cross-platform Skype replacement?

Agreed, Chris. Although I am more concerned about the UI experience personally, you're right about the "sexy" factor of the icons.

The market is sick of iPhones and Androids and clammoring for a worthy new device. This is RIM's market to take if they just execute down to the very last finite detail - which I trust they will.

They have too much to lose, and everything to gain, by not doing so.

Good post Chris. I don't know if you've seen, but RIM is officially changing the homescreen UI from what has been shown. Check out this thread that explains it. http://forums.crackberry.com/news-rumors-f40/rim-listening-app-grid-icons-have-changed-752233/

"it's old and is dude for a refresh"?
Ha!!!!!!!!!!!!
Too funny... anyway I completely agree. those square boxy icons have zero sizzle. We have one shot and it better be awesome.

:>)

Just a heads-up. It's TAT, The Astonishing Tribe, not "the" TAT.

The first T is for "the". ;)

In the next update in a few weeks we will see a change in the icons - they will get smaller going down to 114 from 150 what we saw on the pictures above

As long as it is nothing like Windows 8, that is the ugliest looking OS tile screen I have ever seen and can't believe they agreed and came up with that. All their advertising looks horrible because of it. Sad really.

DB

I think Chris is onto something where the new BB10 homescreen needs that extra "oomph". I think that "oomph" lies in BB10's ability to give an iconic look. Take the logo away on the L-Series and the homescreen right now is what...4 active frames? I understand "content is king", but it doesn't give me anything RIM. Peek, connect and flow, they are all functional and can't be captured as a homescreen. Curious to see what is the marketable phone face of BB10.

I agre & disagree I'm kinda stuck on the icons.. But as far as the bland blue backround I remember them saying there will be a dark & light color scheme so don't think that Miami vice blue is here to stay or atleast I hope not

These are the icon guidelines for BlackBerry 10

-Create an icon that is a 114 x 114 pixel square. This approach is the best (and easiest) way for your icon to fit in with other BlackBerry application icons. Larger icons will be scaled down to 114 x 114 pixels.
-Focus on a single iconic metaphor that clearly represents the application. Think of your icon as a road sign that people understand quickly.
-Base your icon on a square, circle, or rectangle shape.
-Use a silhouette to differentiate your icon from other icons.
-Try to maintain consistency with other BlackBerry application icons in scale, volume, and perspective.

I think they will drop the square icons

The bigger take away from the Dev site is a few lines down:

"Create an icon that is 106 x 106 pixels if you want to allow room for a drop shadow or outer glow."

Which looking at the current app grid we see nothing of the sorts concerning "drop shadow" or "outer glow"

RIM has changed these icons. I believe they saw what everyone else saw and went back to the drawing board. Expect to see the changes soon.

I only care about my wallpaper. If I can't have wallpaper and whatever I want on my desktop as I see fit, I will be pissed.

Blackberry signal....to TK VICTORY where are u when the bb nation needs you. I would love to see if he if he can come up with a concept.

bbjamaica

A few things I'd certainly change:

- the icons seem as if they were drawn by different people. They don't look as if they belong together. Even the colours seem to be chosen from different palettes. Compared to the Cascades icons, they are much less uniform.

- the App World and BBM icons look too alike. The user already knows he/she is holding a BB, there is no need to display the BB logo.

- From a usability standpoint, BBM should just be called "Chat" and contain both text and video chat. App World should just be called "Shop" or something similar, as it's not just apps anymore.

The Appworld icon is an established one, so it is understandable why that one is how it is and as far as the BBM icon, have you looked at any individual IM client's icon and not had it clearly displayed what it is a client for, just look at the likes bbm on a blackberry or things like google talk or aim, it is a well established shorthand.

There are plenty of other icons that could be changed for the better, but other than losing their frames, these two are not that bad.

Well said Chris, well said.

------
Rocking my two berries:
Torch 9810 OS 7.1.0.402 and Playbook OS 2.0.1.358
Twitter: @mr_theend

Pretty sure you're way underestimating the number of Android users worldwide.

If BlackBerry has 80 million users worldwide... pretty easy to figure that Android is above 100M.

Edit: OK, visited the link you copied, Android accounted for 136M phones in the 3rd Quarter of 2012.

ah lol, i should've refreshed my browser before i posted at the previous article XD
i couldn't agree more, how to market things is the first key to successfully get more people to buy it. how to convince them is the most important part for me. it can be by presenting something unique and fresh. it can be by offering special deals. however, only one thing that not everyone can do. to find the right person to convince the mass. steve jobs was one of those rare miracle ever exist. and to be honest, no one is near his level yet until now. Thor is doing his best to do what steve jobs did to apple, but (with all respect to Mr. Thor), he need to reach out to those who already have followers/believer/whatever the term is, to show to their fans that he/she is using BB10 and it is beyond awesome. that is what i think one of the fastest way to get more people to buy BB10.

as for us who are "gadget-aware", details on the gadget is more important than who use BB10 :p
and another bump, RIM need to catch up on social media campaign too. samsung is pushing their social media campaign, at least on facebook. i see more and more friends who likes samsung fanpage because it's being sponsored. which means samsung's fanpage pops up on people's timeline more often.

the most recent sponsored post that's being liked by three of my friends just now is about samsung note II ability to "Personalize an email with your handwriting using the S Pen on the GALAXY Note II."

i haven't seen any sponsored updates from blackberry yet.

As mentioned a few times here by other people. Rim does care about what we think. This will not be the final icons. They already changed as i have read yesterday...

Blackberry by choice , bold 9900 & BB playbook

It's pointless to argue which is most imprtant when you're talking about a business that is as vertically committed to every facet of the design and manufacturing process. Marketing is important definitely, but it's no more or less important as the other "pillars" of its business operations. You let marketing or any other of the pillars fall short (like the legs of a table), you're going to have one wobbly table.

The devil is in the details...in every aspect of RIM's business. They can't afford to take any shortcuts in any area because of the scrutiny they're going to face. RIM is going to be and will be under a HUGE magnifying glass from investors and consumers alike. Take care of ALL details and the big picture will take care of itself (most of the time).

I think the marketing is the important for the smartphones because of the competition's brand reputations. It is about the customers trying to buy the Blackberry compared to the other products.

- Rezaur Rahman

Please, everyone look at this (http://nerdberry.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/bb109910-268x300.jpg) - it seems as though an N-Series leaked! First, what makes sense - i think it makes sense that the keyboard is arched; Think logically - if it was straight you wouldn't have enough bezel to 'peek'. Second, what doesn't make sense - I'm preying that this isn't the N-Series, it looks WAY too much like the current bold. RIM has to get this right from day one, I think they need to look for inspiration from the Vertu Constellation Quest & this http://www.gadgetenthusiast.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Blackberry-10...). The Bold is one of the most beautiful phones to date, however the 10-QWERTY devices need to be groundbreaking. Modern, sleek, powerful - Think Lenovo X1 Carbon. Unbelievably modern, but industrial and masculine.

That looks 'shopped. And not very well.

If by some miracle it IS real, it's some kind of internal prototype built in a 9900 case. That is NOT a leak of the N-series.

Whatever the final app design will be, I'd like to see the BB10 and Playbook have matching icons. I'd be happy if they just used the Playbook icons with the handsets the way they are!

Blackberry signal....to TK VICTORY where are u when the bb nation needs you. I would love to see if he if he can come up with a concept.

bbjamaica

THANK YOU CHRIS, for clear statment!!! Finally!! --> please make sure everyone in RIM reads your manifest.

Every detail is a perception point. One of apples key selling point and biggest success, is the elegant design on every detail. How hard is it to get designers, designing? So much creativity around us, why suicide a product commercially because engineers design the graphical environment (and I am a engineer, so no personal offense)??

TAT @SE has shown us and to the world some of the most fantastic demos. I hope to these are integrated into bb10. What a waist of talent if they are not. Actually this would mean that RIM was 'killing' TAT.

Do not limit to make it like PlayBook, make it MUCH better! Make BB stand for Beautifully Bold!

I agree with improving the look too. With all the leaks they've had in the past, wonder if they're holding back changing to the final suit until they absolutely have to. If I understand right, icons are usually easy to sub out compared to the hard stuff like the radio stack.

We know they have the capability in TAT. Look at the SCRAPBOOK app. Look at the clock. It would defy logic if TAT wasn't used for the home screen itself, given its importance.

Another excellent post Chris! I agree 100%. I hope RIM is listening.. If people are not completely "wowed" by the look and feel of BB10, RIM will be in serious trouble. Lets hope RIM gets it right with BB10!

About time someone wrote a proper article on this. Those icons make BB10 look like a 50$ Chinese phone UI.

Not to sound archaic, but I actually quite like the hi res icons on my 9900 (even though I like to switch themes once in a while). I know they're trying to distance themselves from their current OS, but if those are the UI elements that ill get to see spoiling my flow & peek experiences, I'd be really pissed.

Not only are the icons pathetic, even the main home screen looks kind of stupid. I like the idea of active tiles, but can't they find a better way to display them than this? Heck, even the aging PlayBook has a better UI than this unreleased system at the moment.

Its too close to their release date, but there is still time to make some UI changes. Wake up RIM!

I def agree that BB10 needs some cosmetic improvements. I do not mind if it looks like a 9900 so much (It is still an amazing device, I am actually debating on whether to hold on to this one or upgrade to BB10), but the icons look cheap, really cheap and very generic. When I take out my Bold now, with its custom theme and nice crisp icons it gives me a great sense of anxiety looking at the pics of the new BB's so far. I believe RIM has really stepped up and I am excited for all the new changes….just please please make sure it looks pretty. The 9900 is such a well polished device! I hope the same for the BB10 devices or I will gladly hold onto my 9900.

I'm convinced that the icons on Dev alpha were just a temporary solution to show the functionality of the OS. I think it was a good move of RIM to not show the final look of the OS so that the OS would really shine on the day of launch.
I agree with Chris on the importance of the look from a marketing point of view, especially now there are no customised THEMES :-(

I'm more worried about how sluggish things are on the Dev alpha A. Android ICS is very smooth on similar hardware, so it means BB10 is power hungry and it does not fare well for the battery life.

BB9900/PlayBook/AlphaDev/UK/CH

The Dev alph A is using essentially the exact same hardware(OMAP 4460) as the galaxy nexus which is a basically a year old at this point. London has been rumoured to use the Snapdragon S4 8960T

I just automatically assumed those big boxy icons were just place-holders and it's RIM's way of not giving away the real design. I hope they never actually intended to release BB10 with that ugly look. I have 0 artistic design ability just like Chris, but I can see that those icons were not very appealing. lol.

I would assume that the dev alpha devices were just rough drafts and not the final design. I always thought those icons were hideous and assumed that they would be more polished and astecically appealing at launch. I think this was just engineered to attract developers and keep the blackberry consumer base occupied by the possibilities of the new os and it's enhancements. Imagine not hearing anything from rim until Q1 2013. They would lose traction even quicker (out of sight out of mind). Winning is made in the preparation and anticipation. At the same time the delay has to be worth it. I'm a BlackBerry addict, but I will not let up and will be extremely CRITICAL if they launch BB10 half stepping. I just got the Sony Xperia TL to hold me over until Q1 and it's INCREDIBLE. I'm still using my 9900 as well for personal and my 64GB playbook. But RIM's excuses will not be tolerated on launch. There are too many phones available that do so much more and if BB10 doesn't hit a home run....A GRAND SLAM. I'M DONE.

I couldn't care less how the home Page looks as when I'm using the device (I use my PB nonstop), I'm not looking at the home screen. BB10 has to function beautifully first and foremost. If it looks good prior to getting the job done, great.

Well considering I often have a few passengers, and require space to bring a portable treatment table & work supplies, not to mention I live where it snows 4 months a year... The answer is a no brainer. I'll take the Prius thank you. Also, one of the most reliable cars you can buy. Lol

Simply put ... I will shit can an app that has an ugly icon regardless of functional it may be. If the icons look like shit on the entire phone, then, frankly, the phone is shit to me.

If they can put 3D graphics on Nintendo GameBoy, they should be able to come up with 3D icons on a smartphone. I think that would open up some cool possibilities.

jamaican BB fanboy
I want someone, anyone to tell me what was wrong with the icons on my playbook or os 6 or 7. The icons were beautiful. They floated on the glass. If it's not broken don't try and fix it. The os itself was behind but the ui was simply and to the point. The new ui is near perfect except for the butt ugly icon. I like the rounded corners or and that blue thing in the background its a given that that needs to not have been shown

Yep, I agree with everyone, BB10 icons need to artistically POP. Lots of color variation, something way beyond a simple rendering. Windows Phone live tiles technically are really great, but look totally blandsville! BB10 is a great OS, but it needs to look like it too!

NOOO! RIM!

Should have kept the giant icons and then 2 months later come out with a new phone and market it by saying that it has space for an extra row of ... errm sorry wrong website

/scarcasm

Chris, I couldn't agree with your assessment more. I will never forget the 'wow' factor I had when I first looked at the iPhone and how beautiful those icons were for the time and even to this day. In fact, I even had an iPhone theme running on my Curve because of how horrible the BB ones were, are... and based on what we're seeing, might continue to be.

Thorsten has been clear that they will not sacrifice quality and this absolutely, 110% must apply to the icons for these Apps. Imagine how many people would buy a Ferrari if it had the outward appearance of a Studebaker Avanti or Yugo. It just wouldn't sell well no matter how you try to market it.

RIM... PLEASE CHANGE THIS AND MAKE THE HOME SCREEN A THING OF BEAUTY!

hil;arious topic Like the computer icons on my computer are any diff or sexy. I suppose the mobile nation picture icons below this box are better? Its still a phone and windows. I dont want icons with old blended edges like some 1970 filter on a instagram picture. Just give an icon that functions geeze!!!!

That's like saying there is nothing more graphically appealing when comparing Windows XP to Windows 7. Or that HDTV isn't any better than old cable. It's a fact that people will purchase, use and enjoy a product more that is visually appealing to them over one that's not.

Let Microsoft windows devices have that form factor. Those squares are hideous and are too uniform. Presentation is key. I will hold out as long as I can before Microsoft requires me to update to windows 8 for my pc. The colors run together and apps appear not to be easily identifiable(they all look the same). And it looks like it would give you a headache from looking at all those bright colors.

Great article Chris. And great follow up, comments and support for Chris' main point Kevin. I read the forum posting on this and happy to see RIM is indeed evolving its design UI for the app grid. I much prefer the Playbook style to what had been shown with BB10. It did give me a thought though...it seems to me that it's the text app title that makes creating a sexy visual more difficult. The icons themselves can of course be visually great. What about RIM using some of the previous "toast" tech talked about where at a glance the app grid is purely icons but if you tilt the phone the icons adapt and text app names appear? That could offer another moment of magic as they say while giving a unique UI to the app drawer. And the reality is most of us would be fine understanding the app grid off icons anyways. Symbols like Facebook and browser and camera have become there own commonly understood "language". Just give people the option for more info if they so choose by tiltiing the phone.

I'm guessing I'm one of the few but the current 'Boxed' layout of icons is really sensible. Looks uniform, organized and matches with the OS.

At the same time, I'm most doubtful that this will remain in the final release.

The icon grid in the second picture shows how easy it is on the eyes and honestly things on the smartphone really need to simplify. It's getting a bit too much for most folks.

If BlackBerry wants to achieve it's goal and get a smartphone in everyones hands.. then they need to understand where most people are coming from and not just think of a specific few.

If you want to talk about a logo representation.. Then the best one is the one which can be replicated and memorized easily by everyone.

Skip to 3:00 mins in the video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wra7o6gb6Wc

BlackBerry PlayBook 32GB & Torch 9810

http://www.twitter.com/varunsain

I really really hope, that this ugly and loveless icons are just placeholders! This boring baby-blue with this 8bit VGA icons look like a cheap chinese-phone... Its far faaar away from noble design and doesnt show a high resolution-display... Few weeks ago I have purchased a theme for my bold 9900 made by BBThemes calling Infinity. This iconset is the best example for NEW and inovative icons in an outstanding quality! ... Around two weeks ago we were ask at CB if we feel ashamed to use a BlackBerry.... Until now I would say, that a BlackBerry is a statement against mainstream and shows my individuality... The shown iconset of BlackBerry10 would be surely a reason to hide a BlackBerry10-phone under both hands! I have the fear that BlackBerry10 comes around with outstanding specs and neglected design in a (wrong) selfunderstanding and missunderstanding the market...like before... But we will see- either disappointment (in combination with purchasing a Samsung Galaxy 4S in march2013) or love....

Its going to be the best mobile computing platform yet. And really, the first true mobile computing platform. Android is really just smartphones/superphones. These qnx devices really do have the capability to be our own little computers.

I love the minimalistic full tile icons. Really sad to see them leave :( Keep it simple and stay away from cluttered and messy icons. The icons posted in the "new image" on the forum just looks like everything else out there and really boring. Stop doing what everyone else is doing and start innovating and do something new.

Whether you like the look of the full tiles or not, one obvious issue with them right now is that they are simply too big and a fullscreen of icons is just so cluttered and the lack of vertical gaps between them just makes it harder to move stuff around as when you try to move one around, half the time the phone is going to try and create a folder for you.

I am glad to see that the homescreen will likely lose the "2005 feature phone" look. But what scares me is that someone in rim decided to change the homescreen *TO* the dev alpha b homescreen!! How did that happen? What is going on at rim such that it was *ever* deemed to be a good idea??

What else is in the pipe, that they have not made public (and hence will likely never be seen by the community until launch) that is like this? They won't have a chance to change things at that point.

Remember, almsot no one reads re-reviews (assuming any second reviews will be done). The original reviews will live on the net forever, so it has to be done right the first time.

You have to come real good to beat the iPhone 5 display its not just about pixels its also about viewing angles, contrast ratios, brightness, color rendering, sunlight visibility etc. Right now the iPhone 4 has the best display better than the S3 or Note 2 you have to at least be close to this.

My honest opinion as a 100% blackberry fan:
This phone is ugly. The design of the phone itself isn't that appealing. I'll accept it as my born child on release day but its simply ugly and too iPhonish. I know things can change but its begining to turn towards the more final direction. And yes the homescreen is ugly. My xbox 360 has a better menu than that. I'd rather have circular icons instead of those blocky ones. The layout reminds me of the blackberry storm.
May it rest in peace

It is quite funny really, some people in this thread are complaining that it is not enough like android/iphone and others are complaining that it is too much like them.

On an unrelated note, even if you do prefer the xbox360 menu, here's hoping that Rim's usability far exceeds the dire mess that the xbox menus have become as they seek to showcase the adverts and non-games while downplaying the actual games on a games console.

Placeholders or not... I would welcome a gimmickry which should be able easily with QNX/BlackBerry10: a selection of different color-scheme and two iconsets you can choose from... Blue, red, green, black... Two (or three) iconsets.... In regard of no themestudio 10 for BB10 and no official offer by RIM I would LOVE this capability of different settings... Some MB more or less- who cares?!? :-)

i would love to see it go to crowd sourcing - it is amazingly effective and would probably give the best outcome you can ever imagine.

Here's something no one has mentioned yet... RIM did say there won't be a theme-builder for BB10, right? Well, if that's the case, then the stock BB10 theme needs to be so amazingly, mind-numbingly sexy that the thought of wanting to change it doesn't even cross my mind even if I could. Just, if your going to cram the UI down our throats, at least make it fun to swallow. I have to tip my hat to the Android OS, only because when I see the home screen it makes me want to touch it... Just looks fun to play with (and that is from afar, pondering over someone's shoulder and whatnot). BB10 needs that "touch me, you know you want to" look to it.

Rim should change the font, remove the blue colour label, add transparency or allow more customization to the icon to suit our own preference.

Just hire a REAL industrial design company (Italian) with not just one but a few different flavors (themes) and just stick to making the insides robust and FAST.

Lol Why Italian?! What do they have that everyone else doesn't? I do think it would be interesting to commission a Ferrari designer to mock up some external forms for an all touch smartphone. Kinda like what Porche Design does, or what Sony Style did with the original IPhone.

Dear RIM,
As of right now, you have a huge opening to take the lead. In my opinion iOS is dull and WP8 is bland. The new features of BB10 are unique and amazing. And all that is left for you to do is to make the home screen, app icons, and hardware sexy and elegant. In my opinion the squared icons need to have slightly rounded edges, borders, or slight effects around them, yet remain square for continuity. The continuity will help keep consistency across all other devices and advertising purposes. If you notice, the iOS icons have continuity on all devices and in advertising uses (i.e. crate and barrel flyers, magazine backgrounds, commercials, etc). Therefore, please do not change them back to the unboxed-ugly playbook icons; that would be the biggest mistake ever. If I were to design the home screen and icons for BB10, I would just anticipate how Apple is going to improve theirs, yet make it better and BlackBerry unique with some added pop to them. This is it RIM, you guys have an opening--right now!
PS: The tool bar (phone, search, camera ) on the bottom of the home screen needs to be redesigned as well. Furthermore, that blue background does no justice for the icons and home-screen. Also, please do yourself a favor and stop leaking anymore features and goodies that others will copy before launch. Secondly, hiring Scott Forstall would be great--not only for his amazing talent, but for positive publicity as well. Finally, utilize all that great design talent at TAT. Swedes are the best designers in the world. They have an eye for Timeless-luxurious-modern-elegance in design.

I don't gave a rat's ass about looks or the icons. As long as bb10 murders the competition by a good degree, I'll be rooting for RIM!!!

Sent a tweet out to Alec Saunders and also asked him to check out this article. He was kind enough to respond, so RIM is listening.

"I'm sure that they've been extensively usability tested. That UI has been through multiple iterations."

Addition: Alec just tweeted indicating he'll check out this article. I LOVE that RIM is listening and taking user feedback. Is it January 30th yet?!?