Well I always said the iPhone 4 design was stylish but a very bad move, and now I’ve smashed the screen on my Nexus 4 🙁 which has the same build design (glass back and front sandwiched together).
So time for a new phone!
Now I am a HUGE proponent of Android, everyone knows I’m obsessed with everything Google, I’ve made piles of Android apps, I follow everything they do…but I just purchased the new BlackBerry Z10 (zed not zee, Canada doing it right).
What were you thinking Zander!!
I know right! But I’ve been getting more and more annoyed with iOS and Android devices over the years at just how little I can stand using them to communicate. You know..the purpose of the phone.
Creation vs Consumption
Android is absolutely wonderful as a consumption device. I read Reddit (Reddit News), eBooks (Moon Reader), Google Reader (Feedly), control my television (XBMC, Unified Remote), play games, listen to music. Google Now allows me to instantly look up anything in seconds, it’s great.
But do I write emails? Texts? Tweet? Notes? Not if I can help it that’s for sure. If at all possible I wait until I’m at a computer and then write off that note or email.
The mail and social media apps immediately let me know of a conversation so I read the message, but that doesn’t mean I have time to reply to it at that moment, and re-finding the message a few minutes later is always somehow 20 seconds of searching and a half-dozen more taps than reading the message the first time around.
I want my phone to make it easy to communicate with people!
BlackBerry 10 promises something I can’t get from the other mobile OS’s. It puts communication, organization, and making typing enjoyable front and center. And more importantly, it succeeds at its lofty goals.
Every single way I communicate with people is organized into what is essentially a single always on app that is just a swipe away. There’s no hunting, for the app or for the conversation. It’s simple, it’s intuitive.
And the keyboard! Oh the keyboard. I’ve had so many moments this past week where I’ve just stopped and said aloud or replied to whoever I’m messaging with “…I friggen love this keyboard!”. It’s built on the SwiftKey prediction API and largely copied the iOS style of keyboard so you’d think it would fall under a similar level of usability but it feels like a completely new step in keyboards. Seeing the autocomplete words above the individual keys instead of the keyboard itself has made autocomplete useful finally and for one reason or another my number of ‘stupid autocorrect!’ mistakes has almost completely dropped to zero.
Swiper, Lets Start Swiping
The smartphone pressing and long pressing paradigm has gotten old very fast. BlackBerry’s delegation of swiping to every activity has made the phone feel modern and slick.
If I want to turn on my Android phone I press a hardware button, if I want to turn on my BlackBerry I swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
If I want to switch applications on Android I hold the menu key for a bit less than a second and then press the app I want to switch to, if I want to switch applications on BlackBerry I swipe (and sure, then press the app). My point is the need to long press anything always feels like a break in the flow of using the phone, it makes switching apps an inconvenience. On the BlackBerry switching applications is a joy.
And BlackBerry’s UI guidelines call for no app bar unless necessary and no control buttons (Back/Menu/Home/Search). The apps take up the entire screen real estate making the smaller phone feel as large as my Nexus 4 and no buttons makes the UI feel incredibly clean.
- BlackBerry is acting like a low rules new startup. They’ve been directly communicating with users, pushing out fixes and changes that users request (no release cycle plans, no real timing..they fix things, they push an update, done)
- The contacts app actually displays everything about a contact (latest tweets, posts, job history, their photos, past messages through any form of communication). It does what Android has always attempted to do but never quite succeeded at.
- Wireless tethering actually works
- The GPS actually works better than any Android phone I’ve used :S
- The File Manager behaves like The Hub. All of your ways of storing files are all together in a single app. Browse the local filesystem or Dropbox from one place.
- The camera is a non-stop source of silly gifs (come-on BlackBerry! Let us save the entire sequence of photos you capture for TimeShift)
- There are no consumption apps..or apps period. No eBook Reader, some very very basic feed readers and Reddit browsing apps
- Google Chat has serious disconnecting issues
- Only 8 apps can be open at once, and the BlackBerry shuts down the oldest ones (losing data, no Android style save states here)
- No fun [functional] voice search
- Sad that so many apps are ports of Android apps, Cascades is a very nice UI I want to see more of
- Things I expect don’t get done. Syncing my photos to Dropbox automatically for example
Glowing review aside I wouldn’t recommend the BlackBerry Z10 to many people, it’s a communication device first and foremost and we’re currently in an app for everything craze which BB10 simply does not offer. For me though it’s a refreshing take on smartphones that has removed roadblocks that made me dislike talking to people.