Standardizing on Screen Resolutions for BlackBerry 10 devices

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We’ve received a lot of feedback from the BlackBerry® developer community around how changes in device screen resolution impacts app development. What causes further grief is the late notice of these screen resolutions — i.e. surprise, we have an awesome new device with screen resolution A x B! Which usually has the following response <homer>Doh!</homer>

Well, this time around, we’re going to get ahead of the curve (no pun intended) and let you know what’s coming so that you can plan in advance, and we’ll share what we’re doing to make your lives easier.

We’re giving out BlackBerry® 10 Dev Alpha testing devices on the BlackBerry Jam World Tour so that developers can start building their applications and test on hardware that has the same sensors and screen as what is coming with the first BlackBerry 10 smartphone. As everyone knows by now, the screen resolution on the Dev Alpha device is 1280 x 768. Let’s just go on record and confirm that this will be the screen resolution shipped with the first BlackBerry 10 full touch device.

Thorsten Heins has also gone on record letting everyone know that full touch isn’t going to be the only BlackBerry device that we produce. We are also continuing with our iconic keyboard for users like me who love typing on a physical keyboard. This new physical keyboard device will have a screen resolution of 720 x 720.

Now you may be thinking, great, you’re letting me know what the screen resolution is ahead of time, but what are you doing about making my life easier going forward?

We’ve listened, we’ve learned, and we are now telling you that moving forward new smartphones will be standardizing on the following screen resolutions which will allow you to design your applications to fit two main form factors:

  • Full touch devices: 1280 x 720 (16:9)
  • Keyboard devices: 720 x720 (1:1)

I’m pretty sure that I know what most of you are thinking: What about the first BlackBerry 10 full touch device? Why is it a different screen resolution? This first BlackBerry 10 device has been in the works for quite some time now with lots of supply chain management and manufacturing tooling to bring it to launch. So it’s pretty much a sealed deal.

This initial 1280 x 768 resolution difference from future devices typically affects those developers that are building a custom full screen UI, such as a game, for the first BlackBerry 10 device. If you are in this camp, you have a couple of options depending on your business needs:

  1. Modify your application for each resolution to make use of the full resolution of the different BlackBerry 10 device screen resolutions
  2. Consider “letter boxing” your app to 1280 x 720 on the first BlackBerry 10 device, leaving 24 pixels on both sides of the screen, so that you don’t have any changes to make on the next generation full touch screen resolution.

The fact that we are standardizing on two main screen resolutions going forward has been largely influenced by you, our community of developers. We are committed to making the BlackBerry platform the absolute best – and easiest – application platform for you develop on in order to innovate and grow your business.

Our frameworks are also taking these different form factors into account so that if you are using core Cascades™ controls and layouts, the UI framework will adjust the control sizing and layout as much as possible for you.

We’ll be continuing to add features and functionality into the application frameworks which will help you easily manage the differences between screen sizes in your application. We’ll also be updating the User Experience Guidelines to provide layout and interaction considerations when building applications for the different form factors, so stay tuned!

BlackBerry Jam Americas – Sept 25-27, San Jose CA

BlackBerry® Jam Americas 2012 is a showcase for the bold, new direction BlackBerry is heading with the upcoming BlackBerry® 10 platform. The event attracts developers and industry leaders who understand the power of BlackBerry and want to build their success with the platform. Whether you’re a Native, Web, or Android™ developer, don’t miss this opportunity to explore the powerful, game-changing BlackBerry 10 platform.

Join us, September 25-27 in San Jose, California. Register Now and use promo code DJAA45 to register for only $299.00

About Tim N.

Tim leads Application Platform & Tools Product Management at Research In Motion. This includes APIs, Frameworks and Tools for the BlackBerry Platform. He can be found hanging out in the development forums or Twitter (@brcewane) trying to help out where he can and to bring your feedback into the next releases of BlackBerry tooling. You’ll also see Tim presenting various topics at the BlackBerry Developer Conferences and BlackBerry World so be sure to stop by and say hi. Just don’t start talking about cars or Batman or you won’t be able to get rid of him.

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