A Few Of My Favorite Things in BlackBerry 10

Editorials

With the launch of BlackBerry 10 on January 30th, some of you now have your hands on a shiny new BlackBerry Z10. I am sure you are enjoying the ease of “BlackBerry Hub”, “BlackBerry Flow”, and the deep integration with social networks. One of the great things about being a BlackBerry Developer Evangelist is that I have been using the BlackBerry Z10 for several months and the BlackBerry 10 OS has a lot of power and incredible functionality. So much so, that there are a few features that sometimes get overlooked. So, let me share with you a few of my favorite things about BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry Z10 that you may have missed.

Let’s start with the very groovy BlackBerry keyboard. By now, you have seen (and may have experienced) the ease of using the keyboard. You have probably grown very fond of the predictive text and the ability to flip words into the text stream. But here are a couple of things about the keyboard you may not know.

Popup Letters. In default mode, when you press a key on the keyboard that key is momentarily highlighted to provide visual feedback of the key pressed. However, if you have large thumbs you may not be able to see that feedback. For some people, that’s not a problem as predictive text is their feedback. For others, they want a little more feedback. No worries, you can use the Settings app to turn on Popup Letters. To change this setting, swipe from the top bezel to drop the Settings menu, then click Settings, then Language and Input. In the middle you will find Text Input. Here, you click On-Screen Keyboard to change the options of the keyboard. Turning on Keypress Pop-up will make the keyboard pop-up the letter with each press.

Dropping Keyboard. The keyboard is one of the great features of BlackBerry 10, or in my opinion any smartphone. Sometimes you need to dismiss the keyboard. There are three easy ways to dismiss a keyboard. First, if you swipe down on the keyboard with two fingers, the keyboard disappears. You can also swipe up from the bottom bezel to close the keyboard. This action is actually a toggle. So if you have a situation where you don’t have a keyboard and need one, swipe up from the bottom bezel to bring the keyboard back. The final way, is to press and hold the space bar. This is my favorite way to dismiss the keyboard since I tend to use my BlackBerry Z10 with one hand. On the space bar you will see a little icon of the keyboard with a little down arrow. This is a reminder that holding the space bar will drop the keyboard.

Quick Setting Actions. By now you are probably pretty familiar with the quick settings menu: a swipe down from the top bezel while on the home screen or the active app screen brings down a quick settings menu. The groovy thing about this menu is it serves two functions. If you want to adjust a setting for say, Bluetooth, you click on the word Bluetooth and you are taken directly to the settings page for that feature. However, if all you want to do is turn Bluetooth off, click the icon to quickly toggle the feature. If the feature is on, clicking the icon turns it off and if the feature is off, a click of the icon turns it on. Really great for putting the BlackBerry Z10 into silent mode: just click the icon next to the Notifications label and all notifications are silenced!

Letting Someone Know Where You Are. So the other day, I was waiting for some friends in a restaurant in Amsterdam. It was a tricky little walk to find the restaurant and my friends got lost. Since I knew how to get there, I simply sent them a BBM and asked them to share their location. With that information, I could help them navigate to the restaurant. Since they were also on BlackBerry 10, they could easily send me their location. They clicked me in their BBM contact list. Then, they clicked the Attach icon at the bottom. This gives them options to attach pictures, voice note, contact, appointment, file, or even location. From there, they attached their current location. Once I got the BBM, I could then give them directions to the restaurant. Incredibly handy feature.

Quick Pane Navigation. As with any smartphone, after a while you learn which pane a specific or favorite application lives. Let’s say your favorite game is on pane number 4. One of the great things about BlackBerry 10 is you can navigate straight to pane number 4 by clicking the fourth dot at the bottom. This click jumps you straight to pane four and your favorite game. You can also quickly scroll by clicking and dragging on the dots at the bottom. A quick way to glance through each pane.

The thing is, I could go on for pages and pages about all the really cool things about BlackBerry 10, but what about you? Leave a comment with your favorite BlackBerry 10 feature, tip, or trick so we can all share in the richness of BlackBerry 10.

About Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson – Senior BlackBerry Developer Evangelist – Tom started his career in 1986 with Microsoft Corporation where he was a Program Manager on such products as Windows 3.11, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95, and Internet Explorer. He was also the creator of the Windows Resource Kit which began that product line. In addition, Tom presented at many trade shows and gave technical presentations with the Microsoft Executive Staff. He left Microsoft in 1995 to form Three Points Consulting with Marianne Reid Anderson and Bob Taniguchi. Three Points focused on bringing the power of the emerging internet technology to everyday life. Tom’s innovative technology solutions played a key role in the successful acquisition of Three Points by TechRx. At TechRx, he acted in the role of CTO until it was acquired by NDC Health of Atlanta, Georgia. In 2004, Tom decided to become a High School Teacher as his primary method of giving back to the community. In 2005 he joined the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA CYBER) where he was awarded the Keystone Award for Innovative Use of Technology in the Class Room. During this time, he also earned a Master’s degree in Software Design through Capella University. In 2009, in addition to teaching, Tom returned to software development creating various web and mobile applications.

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