The new Blackberry ... New keyboard style.

10 Sep 2004 - 2:42pm
4 years ago
2 replies
844 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

I haven't seen one close up and I know T-Mobile ain't the best service in
the world, but I just read the article on NY Times about the new blackberry
... http://www.blackberry.com/blackberry7100/index.shtml?CPID-ILC=nah7100t

It reduced its keyboard size, doubled up some letters and now there are only
20 keys (4 rows of 5), so that they reduced the width of the phone to be
less than that of a treo 600 by .1". The only place I see blackberry's are
at work. I know there are solutions to do what a blackberry does through
other channels. Verizon and Sprint can mimic the blackbery functionality
using a treo or other smartphone.

Anyway, we were talking about going against familiarity and being
imaginative. I know a 20 key keyboard is nothing new, but I think the reason
for possible viability has changed. Unlike earlier versions of a 20 key
keyboard that I've seen previous that required a lot of double-clicks or
combination keys, this one uses software against a 35k dictionary to
complete words for you and then give the ability to do lookups afterwards.
I've used these systems on a 10-key keyboard before (as samsung has on their
sprint phones) with too much failure. But I think that is b/c the dictionary
was smaller and the permutations were too great due to the tripling of
letters on a single key instead of the doubling of some letters that is
happening on the new blackberry.

Obviously, most of us haven't used this puppy yet and few in our industry
would probably deviate from the palm, symbian or pocketPC platforms but I
found this intriguing and worthy of possible discussion.

Anyone?

-- dave

David Heller
<mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com> dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
<http://www.ixdg.org/> http://www.ixdg.org/

AIM: bolinhanyc \\ Y!: dave_ux \\ MSN: <blocked::>
hippiefunk at hotmail.com

Comments

10 Sep 2004 - 3:32pm
George Schneiderman
2004

> I've used these systems on a 10-key keyboard before (as samsung has on their
> sprint phones) with too much failure. But I think that is b/c the dictionary
> was smaller and the permutations were too great due to the tripling of
> letters on a single key instead of the doubling of some letters that is
> happening on the new blackberry.

The other noteworthy difference between the new Blackberry and typical "T9" cellphone text entry is that it learns new words, according to the NYT article. Best of all, you don't have to explicitly teach it. Rather, the second time you manually enter any new word, it is automatically added to the dictionary. Very clever.

I used to do (3rd party) software design for the (old) Blackberry, and was very impressed by several aspects of the device interface, especially with respect to text entry. Once you learned a few tricks, some things, like entering accented characters, were arguably easier than on a typical desktop keyboard (Basically after entering a character you can use the trackwheel to scroll through related characters, included accented versions and things like the copyright symbol). The article also mentions the very smart way that they have overloaded the spacebar (also a carryover from the previous design), so that in regular text entry hitting it twice will put in a period and capitalize the next word. And in email fields, the first space is automatically converted into '@', and each subsequent space into '.'

The basic interaction paradigm is also very powerful, although none of the native applications really exploit it that much. Basically you access a list of available commands by clicking the trackwheel (which is also used for scrolling). The command list is context sensitive with respect to the current selection and the system state, which means that you can provide a lot of different commands from a single screen without requiring lots of scrolling through possible commands. (It's a lot like right-clicking, expcept that this is the main means of navigation.) I was working on a Blackberry client for a powerful client-server application. We had one screen from which something like 30 navigational paths were available, and yet we typically didn't have to offer more than 10 choices at once, so we never had more commands on the list than could be displayed simultaneously. For instance, if you called the menu while a part was selected, you would get all the commands related to parts (with the most commonly used part command selected by default). We found that this worked very well, and that after a very brief explanation our users were able to accurately intuit how to access the various functions that were available.

--George

9 Aug 2010 - 11:45pm
DonnaG
2010

The design is good. And I am so excited for August 12 right now because the Canadian company behind Blackberry has announced its newest phone. It's the Blackberry Torch 9800 is said that this Torch tries to re-brand the Blackberry as a tool for both businesspeople and consumers. Some reviewers don't like it but there are lots of consumers who are waiting for it to arrive.

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