Feeds

A brief history of the BlackBerry UI

Obvious thinking

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The first generation of BlackBerries

The first generation of BlackBerries – at least GSM ones as we saw them in the UK – had a two lines of icons – although there were more through scrolling. The excellent jog dial was a great mechanism for choosing which program you wanted. [Although RIM called it a ‘trackwheel’ to avoid the wrath of Sony.]

BlackBerry 6210

BlackBerry 6210

The process of select and confirm with a scroll and a click on the wheel was reasonably obvious and very quick. Keyboard shortcuts addressed the problems of scrolling through long lists: T for Top, B for bottom and M for more, when only part of a message has been downloaded. These mnemonics work well if you are an English-speaker but pose the problem with translation. Do you use new mnemonics in a different language – so that they are easy to remember, or do you keep them for consistency?

The advent of colour didn’t affect the UI much. OK, we got three lines on the display, but a jog dial was still an excellent way to get through the menus. Unfortunately, the CSTN screen was muddy and poorly defined. Many users found their old, slimmer, monochrome device easier to use and read.

BlackBerry 7200

BlackBerry 7200

Despite being a Java OS, there was no need to add applications in the early days, but as time moved on the market changed. The increasing number of apps, growing screen size and the need to drill down into folders needed something where users could move more quickly from one icon to another without having to visit all those in-between. The track-ball provided the solution, again with a press to select.

Voice was no longer an adjunct to BlackBerry features and a more phone-like design meant that QWERTY keys wouldn’t fit and be usable. While a high proportion of the world’s population are happy with T9, American businessmen would rather use Christopher Scholes 1873 design than a Tegics’ 1996 one. So QWERTY was fudged with a two-letter-per-key implementation called Suretype. This scores well on obviousness but ultimately falls between the stools of learning curve and eventual speed. This fate befalls the vast majority of text entry innovations from microwriting to fast-tap. Each develops its band of followers, but very few have seen the success of QWERTY or T9.

Understanding American businessmen, however, is something RIM is excellent at. This is why the phones have font scaling (albeit with a poor selection of fonts) and audio tone control, because old businessmen have failing sight and hearing.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: Wisdom of Pearls

More from The Register

next story
All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing
Only another three days of pooing and I can have a ride!
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Dragon Age Inquisition: Our chief weapons are...
Bioware's fantasy forces in fine fettle
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.