There’s No Place Like a Home Button: Trying to Make Sense of BB10

Before I left the bed this morning to begin writing my girlfriend pulled me close and whispered softly in my ear:

“BlackBerry sucks.”

Thanks to a care package from Howard we are now suddenly a BlackBerry family — she’s got a Q10 and me a Z30. I have to say that the word which best sums up our experience so far is “frustrating”.

The swipe up/down/left/right thing isn’t really a big deal. In my first hour or so I did spend a fair amount of time pressing the BlackBerry logo below my Z30’s screen, hoping for a home screen to appear. I eventually got used to swiping up instead.

My issue is with the home screen itself.

BB10 App Switcher

This is not a home screen.

Seriously, it’s an app switcher, and in my opinion should not be the default destination that you arrive at from everywhere else. While you can scroll up and down to see each and every one of your currently running apps, I feel pretty strongly that launching a new one is what you’ll want to do more often. Android, iOS, even Windows Phone have put app launchers front and centre; is BlackBerry being different just for the sake of being different?

BB Apps

Ok, this is more familiar… Like iOS, apps on BB10’s extended home screen — one swipe to the right from where we just were — appear in the order they were installed. Like iOS and Android, they can be organized in to folders. But it doesn’t seem like there’s an option available to alphabetize them, making it hard for me to quickly find the particular app that I’m looking for.

BB World

The BlackBerry World app store seems all right. Bit of a Canadian slant here, eh? Probably something to do with this Z30 being locked to Bell.

I did find a half-decent reddit client which, as I see it, is the sign of a healthy app ecosystem. So props for that.

BBM

This right here would be the killer app, correct? Not so much because it does anything markedly better than other proprietary chat clients, but because you’ve been a BBM user for x number of years and all your friends use it too. Nothing wrong with that — except maybe that BBM is now available on Android and iOS too.

BB10 Peek

Far more compelling is the BlackBerry Hub, a natural evolution to the global inbox of BlackBerries past. Dumping emails, @replies and the like into one central location makes a lot of sense, but unless I’m doing it wrong you have to first swipe up from the bottom and then swipe to the left from the app switcher to get here.

For me, the pull-down notifications on Android are far more efficient.

And then this happened:

BB Link

So I can’t mount a BlackBerry as a local drive on a Linux computer to get at the screens that I grabbed for this post? Ok, pretty much done here.

Now, dear BlackBerry fans, it’s your turn. I’m not trying to troll you here — these are honest first impressions from a former BlackBerry user, albeit for only a few months back in 2006, and again for a week or so in 2011. Here’s your invitation to drop me some science on what I got wrong, and why…

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