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Apple and Google have nothing to fear from BlackBerry 10 -- but Microsoft does

Galen Gruman | Feb. 1, 2013
Hands-on review: BlackBerry 10 is a big step up, but it's awkward to use in key areas

I experienced more text-entry blues. As you type, suggested words pop up on the onscreen keyboard in tiny, virtually impossibe-to-read small text, by default above the letter it thinks you may have meant to tap in the current word. (You can turn off this suggested text or have it appear above the spacebar instead.) The ability to swipe these suggestions into your text is no less work than tapping the suggestion; the much-ballyhooed swipe-up suggestions seems like a gimmick created merely for demos.

The main suggestion appears in a large blue box that is easy to read -- but it's smack on top of the spacebar, hiding that character and preventing you from ending the current word if you don't want to accept the suggestion. I had to tap a punctuation character, then backspace to delete it, then type the spacebar.

The onscreen keyboard is not smart enough to provide special symbols such as @ and _ when entering URLs and email addresses. (Sometimes, @ was available.) There is no .com button.

Finally, the method to apply formatting to text in emails is unintuitive. Every time I tapped the Format button at the bottom of the screen, I got the onscreen keyboard instead. What you have to do is hide the keyboard (by tapping and holding the spacebar), tap the More button, tap Format in the contextual menu that appears, then tap the Format icon at the bottom of the screen to display the formatting bar. Crazy! After that, the Format button is active at the bottom of the screen, when the keyboard is hidden, so you don't have to re-enable it in the contextual menu. This seems to be a Hub flaw; in Documents to Go, I could use the contextual menu for selected text to enable formatting.

But the dictation feature -- accessed by tapping and holding the period on the onscreen keyboard -- is exemplary, with voice recognition quality a bit better than both Apple's and Google's. Well, exemplary if I'm not the one speaking: BlackBerry mangles my speech as badly as Apple and Google do, though it did great with other testers' speech. As with those two competitors, you need a live Internet connection so that the BlackBerry can send your speech to the company's servers for transcription, then send back to you.

Go with the Peek and Flow

I like the Peek UI's ability to slide in from the right when reading a message to see the full Hub list, then either open the Hub or close it and return to my message. It's fast and easy. The Peek interface is also useful in apps, where you can peak to the available documents or images.

 

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