If the BlackBerry Q10 is becoming well-known for anything, it’s the keyboard. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the Q10 is the only phone for anyone really invested in a strong typing experience.
Over the years, BlackBerry has amassed a wide range of subtle optimizations that have really defined the experience, and many of them found their way to BlackBerry 10. We’re going to plow through the big ones here, which will hopefully be useful for those coming to BlackBerry for the first time, those that are coming back from a hiatus, and even BlackBerry loyalists that never found these little Easter eggs of productivity tucked throughout OS 7.
There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts available to save users from diving into menus and whatnot, and you can find them all here. Opening up menus within an app will often show a letter associated with a command so you can use the physical keyboard to get around in the future.
Hands full? Hold down the 0 key to initiate the voice actions app, allowing you to open apps, dictate messages, initiate searches, and do a lot more.
BlackBerry 10 handles a whole bunch of different languages. Though that might not change the layout of the hardware keyboard, it will offer multilingual prediction suggestions, depending on whichever ones you have activated in the system settings. This is great for folks that will start an e-mail in one language and finish in another.
Speaking of language, accents are accessible through the dedicated SYM key, but there’s an easier way to go about it too. When you hold down a key for a moment, it will turn that letter into a capital (which in and of itself is a handy way to skip the shift key), but if you keep holding down, you’ll get on-screen options for associated accented letters.
The keyboard can also help you quickly get in touch with favorite contacts. In the phone app, head to the settings to set up speed dials. Now when you're in the dialer, simply hold down a key for a few seconds and you’ll launch right into a call.
Universal Search has long been a staple of the BlackBerry experience and continues in BlackBerry 10. Just start typing from a dead stop on the home screen, and you’ll immediately be presented with matching results of local content (files, contacts, messages, etc.) as well as options to initiate searches through the web or connected apps. BlackBerry 10.1 introduces Instant Action as an additional field here, so you can launch right into typing a tweet or starting an e-mail from the Universal Search area.
BlackBerry has a word substitution engine built in, so the Q10 can automatically transform shorthand into longhand. For example, one of the built-in substitutions changes “min” to “minute”. Users can designate their own under the keyboard settings, which will no doubt save precious seconds in daily typing.
Even though there’s a physical keyboard here, the BlackBerry Q10 still uses the prediction engine from the Z10. Make use of its predictions, because they’re built based on your daily usage. You’d be surprised how much of a sentence you can write without touching the keyboard.
Throughout the BlackBerry OS, certain text fields take liberties by automatically inserting certain characters. For example, tapping space twice mid-sentence will automatically drop in a period and capitalize the next letter. In e-mail address fields, the first space will automatically be an @ symbol, and the second will be a period (since that’s usually the .com). Web addresses in the browser are similar, except you have to hold down alt and hit space in order to drop in a backslash instead of a period.
Though the familiar infrared trackpad may be gone on the Q10, the text cursor has been updated in BlackBerry 10.1. As before, tapping to the left and right within the cursor’s circle will move it one character to either side, you can now also tap up or down to switch rows.
Obviously the physical keyboard on the BlackBerry Q10 offers some unique advantages that you won’t be able to find elsewhere on the modern smartphone scene. After leveraging each of these tips, you’ll quickly find yourself wondering how anybody operates without a real keyboard.
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