Go With The Flow – BlackBerry 10 Style


BlackBerry released the Z10 in Canada on February 5th. This was their first device built on QNX/BlackBerry 10 and brought innovation to a flat smartphone world. Android and iOS rule the roost in North America and the fight at this time is for third. With 79 million customers worldwide, BlackBerry needs to reaffirm to those users, as well as draw others from their competition.

One major step that BlackBerry took was to introduce The Hub, an underlying everything message/notification space that runs underneath everything else. BlackBerry isprimarily about messaging so it makes sense to reinvent how we do this. The interface works without buttons. The only buttons on the device are volume/play/pause rockers on the right side, and a screen lock button on top. No back button, berry button, call or hang up button. Gone. Now, you interact with your phone using BlackBerry Flow.

There were a few articles and reviews that I have read that talk about having to get used to the gestures. Owning this phone, and being as objective as possible, I had to show how incredibly simple, and brilliant the design is.

Lately, everywhere I go that I have this phone out, people ask if it is the new BlackBerry. That is a good sign when I see people stop what they are doing to come over and take a look. This starts with them reaching out their hand to feel it, and the consensus is the same.

“Wow. That is light. It feels good. Comfortable.”

My thoughts when I first held it as well.

Then I have to show them how it works.

It wasn’t until I was describing it to my friend Rich that I figured out how to explain it to him that made it easy to grasp.

Think of having three layers in a glass table. On the bottom, you have the Hub. The collector of your messages and notifications. Email, BBM, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You add the different elements that you want to be notified of, and when things come in, and your light goes off, you know you have something in the Hub. This could even be a missed call as it collects all your different notifications.

IMG_4423 (Medium)

(lock screen showing a BBM and text waiting)

IMG_4425 (Medium)


(All my accounts setup in the Hub)

Now the middle layer of that table is where the Active Frames reside. Active Frames is BlackBerry’s name for running apps. When you load an app, this is where it goes. When you have an app full screen using it, and then want to do something else, you swipe up. This transfers your app from full screen to a smaller version of it that occupies quadrants of the screen starting in the upper left. You can have up to eight apps running at once with true multitasking. Once you load a ninth, the oldest one shuts down. You have two “screens” therefore for that Active Frames layer, each able to hold 4 Frames.

IMG_4432 (Medium)

(4 Active Frames)

IMG_4437 (Medium)

(sliding the screen up to show a 5th Frame)

You can move between these two pages by swiping up and down on the active frames area.
The top layer of the table is the apps layer. This is where your apps reside, both the ones that come as default on the phone, and the ones that you download from BlackBerry World. The top layer can have enough space to accomadate additional apps. Pages are created as needed, for example I have 3 pages. Each of these can be swiped to, left and right moves between them.

IMG_4440 (Medium)

Below I have created a basic map to how I visualize things.


One addition to this is that the left/right swipes can access an additional area that I think of as a category or menu view. For example, we have “The Hub” but if we swipe to the right, we reveal an additional screen that lists all accounts.

IMG_4428 (Medium)

(The Hub)

IMG_4429 (Medium)

(With an additional swipe to the right)

This additional swipe works from within an app as well. For example when you are in BBM and swipe to the right you reveal a menu that has “Chats/Contacts/Groups/Invites/Updates”. A lot of apps will have an additional menu bar at the bottom that mimics the same thing.
This brings us to the feature called “Peek”. This simply lets us check out the Hub from anywhere. Swiping up will show you what notifications you have, and continuing to the right will take you to the Hub so you can respond, read, or delete the message.

ROXF818 (Medium) (2)

There are some simple shortcuts that you learn as you play with the Z10. If you are in the Hub, swiping up takes you to the Active Frames area. The same if you are in the Apps area, swipe up and you are at Active Frames.
Swiping down from the top from any screen will reveal a top menu that gives you options such as “Settings/Help/Scan Barcode/etc” depending on the screen you are on.
Additional gestures are available such as a two finger swipe up or down to bring up the keyboard or put it away. Pinch to zoom in or out. In all cases things just make sense and once you learn where things are, you will find yourself moving around without any difficulty.
In a few days I will have had my Z10 for a week. Already I find it to be increasing my productivity, helping me to respond to messages quicker, and helping me to become more organized. As a user who requires my smartphone for business, I am extremely critical of a devices interface. I don’t miss the physical buttons at all, and in fact find the gestures have made maneuvering around more instinctive.
Once you add in the brilliant keyboard, one that I find I actually am typing faster than my Bold 9900, you have a device that increases your productivity. There are a few quirks that need to be addressed, but overall is not only the best device that BlackBerry have released in a long time, but one that gives you the security that no other device can offer. There may be those that rate a device on the amount of apps. Android and iOS will give you the most choices if that is your criteria. The app availabilty on BlackBerry 10 will only increase. What’s important is that BlackBerry has gone from giving us the best messaging device, to the most full featured smartphone on the market bar none.

Guest post by:


Alan Castell                                  office   204.415.6550 x 100

President                                     fax        855.415.8324

alan@alphatechnologies.ca       425 Queen Street

www.alphatechnologies.ca       Winnipeg, MB r3j 1l3


Scan the qr code to add my contact information!