It's business as usual with app development on the BlackBerry Q20

Belt
By James Richardson on 25 Feb 2014 11:04 am EST
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With the recent announcement of the BlackBerry Q20 to arrive later in the year and the re-introduction of the trackpad, call send/end, menu and back buttons - BlackBerry developers may initially be concerned whether their apps that they already have released on the Q10 and Q5 will run. The answer (thankfully) is yes and BlackBerry have been quick of the mark to give developers piece of mind. 

Over on the BlackBerry Developer Blog they have confirmed the below, which will not only be a relief for devs, but also encouraging that they will have more options in the future in terms of how the buttons will interact with their apps. 

As part of our Q-Series line up, you can rest assured that the applications that you’ve built for the Q5 and Q10 will be compatible with this new device.  You can think of the hardware buttons as an additional way to navigate and interact with applications.  The same touch-based interaction model of all the Q-Series devices will continue to work as usual.

We are also planning to build functionality into the application runtimes, so that your applications react to the new hardware keys as expected.  As usual, we’ll be providing tooling, simulators, samples, documentation and SDK updates prior to the launch of the device to ensure that you have ample time to test your applications or explore ways to deeply integrate them with the new hardware features.

We will be providing more information shortly, so that you can explore these new navigation and interaction paradigms in your applications. Happy coding!

Nobody panic - all is well. 

Reader comments

It's business as usual with app development on the BlackBerry Q20

142 Comments

But can you have Peace if you have no Mind. So it could be correct. Haha

Posted Via CB10 on my Zed 10

What they don't say is "unless you rebuild your app for the Q20, it will not work correctly with the trackpad and new buttons and will confuse and baffle users". More platform fragmentation. Disastrous. BlackBerry never learn.

There's no reason to believe that these controls change anything. The trackpad would just use the existing mouse interface, and the keys can just use existing BB10 events.

Posted from CB10 running on my awesome Z30 2B6927F7

Yup. Bluetooth trackpads already work fine on BB10 phones. BB10 has had trackpad support from day one.

Posted via CB10

Imagine having a short (normal) press on the "Call" button bring up the phone app with the contacts list or recently dialed, and a long-press doing a last number redial... just like the good old days... and hanging up the phone doesn't mean "take device away from face and wait for proximity sensor to wake up... then log back into the device if it's been a long call, then navigate to the phone screen then find the 'hang up' button." You can just press the Call End button and BOOM. Done. I can not wait.

Yea, this whole button thing is a bit misguided of Chen to hang on to his user base. He'll keep em but at the expense of the rest of the others.

Did you ever think that this might be why he has multiple devices - to cater to different audiences?

Gawd, I don't even know why I bother reading the comments. The armchair CEOs/CTOs/CMOs and the ChickenLittles are crazy.

Right you are. The additional buttons don't appeal to me (Q10 owner) yet, but I know many legacy owners who can't adapt to the new user interface. The old-style buttons will make their life easier and the Q20 more desirable.

Posted via CB10

I am looking forward to it. I will buy one as soon as they are available. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

Posted via CB10

At the expense of the rest of the others? What are you talking abt? You mean the fringe users that frequent CB who are more or less tech nerds that account for a few percent of the total BlackBerry user base?

The trackpad and belt are critical for phone to be a BlackBerry. Clearly Chen said hes shifting his focus to prosumers. The consumer market is owned by Apple and Samsung.

Posted via CB10

ptpete
Before making mindless comments, I suggest you read the article 1st. Then you will quickly realize the new BBRY is going to cater to every and all. So yes the track ball on one phone is a blessing while the others that do not have it is also a blessing. We have full touch, large/med screen sizes, variety of qwerty devices etc., what more do you want?

Didn't realize Chen was going to personally take away everyone's Z10, z30, q5, q30 and force a q20 down their throats.. lol

This isn't happening at anyone's expense really; don't like the 20, don't use it.

Posted via CB10

There will likely be another OS update to ensure the buttons perform the same steps as gestures so that developers won't be required to make changes. I still hope they implement an optional virtual version of these buttons and/or trackpad for the existing devices and future all touch devices.

Posted via CB10

Trackpads already work on BB10 : any bluetooth trackpad works fine on current BB10 phones.

Posted via CB10

I hope this doesn't mean that the screen ratio is 1:1. Any devs on here that can elaborate on how their apps work on q10 and Z30 (do u have to resize the apps or does BB take care of that for you by scaling).

Depends! I have one app that I used default cascade controls for and it gets resized automatically on each device and another that I used custom image buttons and had to resize the app images and buttons specifically for the Q series.

Posted via CB10

Why are not all the Z apps compatible? A ton of my Z10 apps are not available or not compatible with Z30.

Mikescraftbeer.com - C00012735/ Mike Garson Photography - C00471EA8

And the melodrama continues ...

How is adding a couple of buttons to a "more powerful device" suddenly decreasing it's power by 35 years of tech? Gawd ...

Thank you. All these sillies are acting like hardware buttons are a bad thing. Since when is being able to accurately control cursor position old-fashioned? Since when is being able to end a call from any application a hindrance?

I am enormously excited for the return of the hardware keys, as this will reduce the frustration I've had with the os, and it will greatly improve operation speed and accuracy.

They are a bad thing for the develpoment of this platform, all to soothe a small segment of users that are resistant to change:

1. Hardware buttons are a bad thing when they offer limited functionality but always take up space.
2. Cursor position can be used with a virtual trackpad, but the trackpad has no use when viewing content on the phone. You're just making a small screen even smaller.
3. Dedicated call and end buttons only have use when you are on the call. Think about the rest of the time you use the device. Wasted space. Besides, their other function in bbos (exiting to home screen) is already replicated with a swipe.

If you are happy about the return of the largest waste of space and part most prone to breaking on the device, then kudos to you. May your tenure in 2007 be fruitful.

I would have to agree. There is probably a segment out there that want this and I just have to ask why? This hardware can also be replaced with an optional software update. One step forward one step back. I hope the sales will justify this.

Pricing is probably the most critical factor for BlackBerry 10 not selling like hotcakes. Look at the competitor's pricing.

Posted via CB10

The millions of BOLD users in enterprise finally have a BB10 device to more or less seamlessly upgrade to. Not a huge waste of resources re-training staff.

iPhone for me? Scr... ahem Q that! (posted from the latter)

Also, that wasted space argument does not count, otherwise if you added that little strip of screen at the bottom, you'd create another screen size for devs to cater for. 4:3 like iPad?

It's 1:1 or one of the two Z ratios (768/720:1280).

iPhone for me? Scr... ahem Q that! (posted from the latter)

I won't "panic" but I will point out in the article it should say "peace of mind", not "piece of mind"

Posted via CB10

I know! It's an attempt at humour - you spotted the "piece of mind" error and just before it, was "quick of the mark". I thought it would be humorous to use your quick-wittedness to point out the other spelling mistake...

Nothing funnier than having to explain a joke (not!)

What they don't say is "unless you rebuild your app for the Q20, it will not work correctly with the trackpad and new buttons and will confuse and baffle users". More platform fragmentation. Disastrous. BlackBerry never learn.

It doesn't say that because that's not the case. The buttons will be mapped to existing BB10 events and it's the OS's job for those to work, not for each specific app to implement.

Q10 apps will work great on the new Q20.

What they will not do is actually make any use what-so-ever of the trackpad. Any developers looking to do that have much disappointment coming to them...

The hard keys and track pad are perfect for people having trouble with certain touch functions of q5 and q10 - this is a step forward for those people and among keyboard users this is a large group - congrats to BlackBerry for seeing this.

Posted via CB10

Yeah, but will the resolution be higher with the larger screen? Ask the hard questions!

I used my Q10 to create this CrackBerry madness!

Why bring back all those old stuff like the track pad it just kill the look of the full touch screen BlackBerry smartphone

Posted via CB10

I don't think the full touch phones will get the trackpad/buttons. This is just for this upcoming high-end qwerty device (and possibly future qwerty devices too).

Are you kidding me. The Q10 already fragmented dev. This pours salt on the wound.

I say this from the experience of adapting a BlackBerry sponsored app from Z10 to. Q 10.

Also, please wake up and realized that this world is not isolated. BlackBerry should make it easier, rather than more difficult, to develop the BlackBerry 10 version of existing iOS and Android apps. Reuse the same wireframes as much as possible.

In simple words: Q 20 makes the already small dev community smaller.

I'm a developer and I see not a single issue. My Q10 apps will just work fine at the Q20, including trackpad. :-)

Posted via CB10

I declare we will not develop any app for Q20. We will also recommend our enterprise customers to stay away from it.

Then your enterprise customers will probably think you're silly, as this phone seems to be precisely what many enterprise users have been holding out for. Your choice not to develop for it, but have fun missing out on potential customers.

Haters gonna hate, I guess.

Lol oh noes, the almighty and powerful CB user "mobilesync" will stop developing apps?! The BB platform is doomed!

Posted via CB10

Lol I know. I was really excited to get a Q20 until I heard He wouldn't develop for it. I guess I'll have to settle for a mobilesync-approved device.

What about all the Android ports that we are so dependent on? You gonna have a physical back button and an Android virtual "belt". Frikin crowded.

You wouldn't need the virtual button. It'd be like how you can hide the bar now for Android apps and use the back gesture. Except instead of the gesture, you could use the back button. So it's likely that bar would be disabled by default.

If you are a dev, I would like to peek-in to a discussion between you and a few other dev's regarding your issue, as I fail to see what the fuss is about.
Any ideas on where one could go to view such a debate?

It was previously obvious at a quick glance if someone was still on the "old" OS 7. What this little feature does is allow for people see a Blackberry device in the hands of a customer and not a luddite. A row of buttons could mean you are using a Bold or a Q20. No matter, you can be a proud BBRY customer whereas I got the feeling some people felt shame that they "had" to use older BBRY equipment for work or whatever.. Hopefully this will make the switch to BB10 that much easier. BES12 should really help in that regard too.

Ummm...this is a non-statement: it doesn't say anything of value. Specifically, it doesn't spell out what these buttons do, and if devs have to think about them when designing user interfaces and interactions.

Posted via CB10

This is exactly my train of thought as well. Of course the apps will work, but unless the developer actually implements responses for the toolbar it will be useless in that particular app.

Unless BlackBerry is saying they will make sure the buttons automatically mirror gesture functions, in which case I hope developers can still adjust them to do things manually.

Also 1:1 confirmed, if Q10/5 apps work out of the box. That is resolution dependant.

BlackBerry 10 signed.

Exactly! The dev's will 'mirror' the buttons to the current gestures.

What is wrong with that!?

Don't forget that some of us wear thin gloves, others use the phone in rainy environments, and others use it strictly with one hand. These points all bolster the reason to have the said buttons. Geesh!

Tell that to the majority of BlackBerry users.... yeah, the ones that buy more legacy hardware than bb10, and have kept is afloat though this transition.

If you don't like the small form-factor, get a Z30!

Really don't care what they introduce as long as they don't screw around with the Z series and keep it strictly touch screen, thank you very much

We are not going to develop apps for Q20. In fact we may stop developing for any BlackBerry because of this.

Bye bye BlackBerry dev.

As for myself, I remain a loyal BlackBerry user.

I don't understand this at all. Those buttons aren't going to be anything you need to worry about as a developer. The OS will handle the functions of those buttons. You don't need to worry about anything. If the rumors are true that the resolution is doubled in each direction, the aspect ratio of 1:1 would remain and existing apps for Q10 would merely double the pixels (like what iOS has done in the past). So I think you as a developer wouldn't have to do anything at all. Unless you wanted sharper images in your app to take advantage of a higher pixel density.

@mobilesync
Who is this 'we' .. What are you, like the ambassador for a consortium of app developers?

Are you even a dev?

Use Cascades properly and you're fine. If you haven't we found the mistake you have done and shouldn't do twice.

Posted via CB10

"to give developers piece of mind."

I'm sure you meant "to give developers peace of mind."
Very different meanings. :-)

I'm not a developer, but this seems a quick and adequate reassurance that their current apps will still work.

Via CB10 & Z10 or Q10

I look forward to this...the 9900 was my favorite form factor, buttons and all. BB10 is the best OS...the best of both worlds!!

They need to get z10 apps compatible with the q20 without having to ask developers to reprogram.

Posted via CB10 - Z30STA100-5/10.2.1.1925

It's fair to assume the screen ratio is 1:1. And for a bigger screen (than the Q10) to stay 1:1, it must be wider then the Q10. And if this is the case, then the keyboard will be wider. Wider keyboard means easier to type, for 2 handed.

 CB10 

They should use the precious space for a bigger screen so that developers can do it once and for all. That also encourages vendors of existing iOS and Android apps to quickly develop a native BlackBerry 10 version, simply based on the existing design or mockup or live app. They would then migrate to the bb10 UI theme.

Many big app owners hire design companies for their mobile apps. With Z10, they may make adjustments on their own. With the 1:1 screen, they have to pay the designers to make changes, which adds to the cost and the time.

Why blackberry is making things complicated? I am sure that some of the features will not be compatible.

I being a legacy BlackBerry Developer felt really hard supporting touch and trackpad and I see that the cycle continues with new OS as well.

Also I am confused why they don't support existing apps if newer devices have similar keys.

From my Z

It's obviously a move of desperation, an attempt to capture the legacy user sales when they upgrade. BB has determined this using surveys, this is not innovation.

I would suggest to learn finally Cascades and you will realise why this new buttons are not a issue. It will work out of the box.

Posted via CB10

Try the track pad editor app. It has a virtual keypad. Wouldn't mind having this on my Z10 keyboard.

Posted via CB10

As much as I hate seeing physical keyboard go, blackberry should just focus on all touchscreen

Posted via Z10 running 10.2.1.2102

How about getting "typo" to make a keyboard that fits the z10 and z30 with a battery to balance the weight.

Posted from a Blackberry Z10

BlackBerry.....what are doing with this Q20? are you serious. Beyond pointless. The track pad isn't a make or break for the customers. I think we can all can do without it just fine. The Q10 is the best phone I've ever had. No track pad needed. For the people that complain about not having one, stop. The gestures are EASY to get use to. Stop it.

Posted via CB10

Apparently they need training wheels. Or would they tell me they are not training wheels and that the track pad was superior?

Posted via CB10

I am very negative about the introduction of the navigation buttons onto BlackBerry10. I feel this is a step backwards especially in the minds and perception of the users. I feel like this is to accommodate those users who refuse to take the bold step. Who's minds and habits are stagnant. This is not innovative minds but complacency.

We have to move forward and not look back. The gestures are more efficient and effective. I've just rolled out 300 devices, all to legacy users. And with proper training I have 40,50,60 year old users who are adapting.

From a developers point of view, I don't want to implement additional api's to allow the buttons to interact with my code. I hate tweaking my code to accommodate multiple form factors.

I do belief that the uptake of BlackBerry10 Would have been much better of the Q10 did not look similar to the bold 9900. Because of this, in the users mind BlackBerry did not advance. Now we bring the navigation buttons to BlackBerry10. This is a further step back.

Lastly. I met a woman with a Q10 a few months after the launch of BlackBerry10. I complimented her as I used the Z10 at the time. She said thanks, but than she pointed to her colleagues Samsung Galaxy S4, and said. "Thanks, but my phone is not as advance as his" although her phone was as advanced, and more efficient, in her mind, she had a BlackBerry that is not different frim the legacy BlackBerry devices. That is because BlackBerry build on the success of the bold 9900 rather than building a form factor that is visibly new and different.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry 10 OS hand gesture is not going anywhere. Trackpad is not going to harm the BlackBerry. It will only make it better.

Even Cars like BMW, Mercedes, Audi have something similar in functionality to trackpad. It's called I-drive. These Luxury cars have all kinds of features In instrument panel. Why do you think they have the I-drive? Ans: Efficiency So you can concentrate task of driving. It never existed before track Pad. Maybe Car engineers got the Idea from BlackBerry.

Thats what trackpad does! All you need is your Thumb to use all the features of BlackBerry. What was lacking in gestures makes up with trackpad. Faster editing, copy, Paste- gestures is no match. Trackpad is here to stay. It's a Improvement!!

I liked the windermere BlackBerry. That should be called Q20 with trackpad. We need screen size at least size of Z10.

No Body is going back to squinting size screen! Take a look at all the smartphones!! It should also include all the latest networks wifi AC, Bluetooth ,NfC etc. Do not take away features from its predecessor.

BlackBerry Lead

Do Not Follow

Posted via CB10

I don't understand where BlackBerry is heading to. BlackBerry bringing back the keys? Will the phone with track pad attracts the customers?

On the contrary Samsung and apple are trying to bring more health monitoring apps.

BlackBerry is always behind..

From my Z

Absurd. Bringing back hardware keys like this, is a step backwards. "Luddites can't adapt, so let's change the most advanced gesture based OS as an additional we were wrong." - nobody said if, but may as well. No front facing navigation keys is part of the reason I love BlackBerry 10. I'm dumbfounded by this backwards thinking. Brutal actually.

Posted via CB10

Other manufacturers are also going to go for the "no front facing navigation buttons" as time goes on. So this, to me, is absolutely ridiculous. I don't like the idea at all, so glad I have this Z30, might be the last of the best.

Posted via CB10

It's backwards thinking in my opinion. BlackBerry was at the forefront of design and a 'future proof' concept with a gestures based OS. This, again, is ridiculous.

Posted via CB10

Trackpad is a superior navigation as it requires less effort than dragging your thumb around the screen. More accurate for selecting text or links in dense websites. I'm sure most people who use the Q20 will instinctively end up using the trackpad for most things.

Most of the haters are bitching for aesthetic and associative reasons, not practical ones... which is fair enough; they care about brand image (and by extension theirs). There are several great touch-only BBs s available however, so they're being a bit silly, especially since they're just feeding material to BGR.

Posted via CB10

Get rid of the belt keys....

Incorporate the track pad into the space bar (don't need the other ones)....

There could be a switch in Settings that allows and disallows the space bar to double as a track pad.

This provides more screen real estate while giving the best took for fluid and effective navigation.

Soon, What ya think?

Posted via CB10

THANK YOU BLACKBERRY for listening to your customers. Going back to the prior interface is a HUGE step back in the right direction.....For a messaging / business phone is the only way to do get the job done!

This will be great for visually impaired users, the physical keyboard is easier to use, and the dial and end call keys will give easier control of telephone calls.

Posted via CB10

I bet there isn't one corporate BlackBerry user thinking, "well now I'm going BlackBerry 10..." because of the navigation keys. highly doubt they are even aware.

Posted via CB10

So glad I am using a Z30 and it exceeds my needs. I sincerely hope the next high end qwerty doesn't have these unnecessary buttons. I never 'diss' BlackBerry, and I'm still not, but I disagree with returning to the buttons.

Posted via CB10

I bet the resolution is going to be different yet again and it will have an aspect ratio like that of the 9900.

Just thinking about this stupid belt makes me want to puke.

Posted via CB10

As a developer, I have reservations about the menu and back buttons.

In BlackBerry 10, you have three menus: the Tab menu on the left, the swipe down from the top (for settings), and the overflow menu on the right. Which one does the menu button control? If it's not consistent across all apps, it's going to confuse users.

If there isn't a screen to return to, will the Back button just minimize the app to an active frame? I can see people getting frustrated when pressing this and having it shrink on them, just to have to move the trackpad over and open it again.

I understand how the trackpad can appeal to some people, but the menu and back buttons could complicate things.

I'm going to change my attitude regarding this weird move to return to hardware navigation keys. I hope they continue to produce devices sans navigation keys too, which they are, with the Z3. So, my attitude is "whatever works to sell BlackBerry 10 devices to more people"...

Posted via CB10

Confusing users is going to occur. They're going to wonder, "what do they want, gestures or hardware buttons?"

All the time they were building BlackBerry 10, it is obvious to me that there was a purposeful reason behind losing the navigation keys in favor of a more modern, all touch, gesture based navigation of the OS.

Posted via CB10

RE: The Buttons... I'm big fan of the buttons and trackpad. However, the menu button has always eventually become unresponsive. So, the buttons are a good idea, but make them last.

I love how CB posts an article to explain that app development will not be an issue on the Q20, and yet we still have 100-odd comments complaining how its gunna be a gong-show to develop apps for the Q20. Did you guys read the article?

Ive seen a few "oooh boy thats it, BB is dead now" or "thats it, im done with BB now" .. Im not sure if this wasnt made clear, but they're not going to stop producing all touch phones, or qwerty phones without the belt. So if you hate the belt, you have nothing to worry about. The 'classic' line of phones will have the belt, the rest will not. Whats the huge uproar all about?!

They should make the physical keys function as they would with the gestures/touch-screen buttons already present on BB10. This should be done right away... so new and previous BB users get good app experiences. There should' be an update like there was for the Q10 with speed dialling from the physical keyboard buttons.

I for one, would appreciate the extra screen size and would prefer instead of the physical buttons and trackpad, to have that space dedicated to more screen on a Q20.

I see where they are aiming at with this, so it may work for bbry but I for one would be all over a Q30 if that meant my q10 with a slightly bigger screen.

That said, I think that this q20 concept might work for the trackpad fanatics that cannot get used to the no buttons approach... even though that was "the hype" about bb10 when it first got out (excluding the keyboard).

A "niche" - aimed device... could work, I m curious to see how it goes.

If I were to get a new phone, having the Z10 and now the Q10, I am not sure I'd go for the Q20 but clearly not aimed to pull in my "demographic"

All I am concerned about is it giving a small step-back on the BB10 concept and character for the general market, while aiming to secure a niche demographic. We ll have to wait and see!! It is good to see some fellow crackberrians getting back their beloved trackpad though, I ll give you that :)

"Hey that is my Q... 10... via CB10