1. Alex_Hong's Avatar
    With the introduction of the original iPhone, it sparked a new trend of touch screen devices. Unlike the touch screens that we used to know on older smartphones, the touch screen and user interface of the iPhone changed the way we interact with our devices. I still remember the HP ipaq rw6282 running windows mobile and the Sony Ericsson M600i that i used to own. The interface was so complicated that i would rather use a feature phone instead. Which leads me to today's topic. User interfaces (UI).

    Many of the fellow CrackBerry Addict would attest to the fantastic UI on the Blackberry PlayBook. including myself. So, i am now going to try and rationalize in my point of view why i think the PlayBook has one of the greatest UI among the current tablets with an extremely long post.

    For obvious reasons, i would compare it to the most popular tablet of them all. The Apple iPad. I will compare things that we do/access most on a tablet.

    1. Home Screen.

    On an iPad, accessing the Home Screen is as easy as pressing a button. That is extremely simple and easy for any first time users to grasp. Accessing the Home screen is also as easy on the PlayBook, with a simple swipe up on the bottom bezel. In this case, the ease of access to the Home Screen is an equal match on both devices. But things complicate a little bit when device orientation is put into consideration. When you put the iPad in a landscape format, the Home Screen button ends up on either side of the device, or even sometimes when you lose track of the orientation of the device and end up using the device upside down, the button ends up on the top. Whereas on the PlayBook, no matter how you rotate the device, swiping up from the bottom bezel facing you, will always be to access the home screen. This is just me nitpicking, but i like the continuity of the home screen access on the PlayBook. You can quickly pick up the device in any orientation and not have to worry where the home screen button is.

    2. Multitasking.

    On the iPad, you can "sort of" multitask, though most would argue that its not truly multi-tasking. Double-click the home button and it would bring up a list of recently used app. Clicking on any icon would bring back the last used state of that app. On the PlayBook, after swiping up from any running app, it minimizes the app to the home screen above the apps. You can then open any other apps then, any other minimized app would all be available there. Navigate simply by swiping through any of them. Or, you could also just swipe from the left or right bezel to quickly switch to any other running app. You can even keep all the apps running even when minimized by selecting the "Showcase" option in settings.

    3. Closing an Application.

    Just like a tap, after you have open it and use it, you must close it eventually. On the iPad, actually just using the home button would be considered closing the app, but however even though it is closed. iOS stores the last used state of the app so that when you want to open it again, you can go straight back to the app. Though the apps as far as i could tell uses little or no application memory. (i am not entirely sure on this though, those who knows how it works feel free to add in.) To "completely" close the app, you would need to double click the home button, which brings up recently used apps, then hold any of the app until a "minus" sign appears on the app, and then tap that. A little bit too complicated for my liking as compared to just swiping up to minimize an app and swiping the app to the top to close it on the PlayBook.

    4. Settings.

    This is my most hated part of the iPad. In order to just turn on the wifi or bluetooth, i need to find the settings icon on it, then toggle it. That means in order to turn on the bluetooth for example from within an app, i would need to go back to the home screen first. On the other hand, the PlayBook has a "menu bar" that i could simply tap on to turn bluetooth or wifi on or off. Even within an app, i could swipe down diagonally from the top corners, and it would bring the menu bar down and allow me to quickly change my settings without exiting or minimizing any app.

    Also, to adjust settings of certain apps on the iPad, same thing. Home screen, settings, look for the app you want to change. In contrast, you simply have to swipe down from the top bezel to bring down more options or settings for that particular app. Easy as pie.

    5. Organizing Apps on Home Screen.

    Pretty straight forward on the iPad, with folders and different pages that could be access by just swiping. A dock on the bottom with fixed apps that you can customize. PlayBook, uses the horrid, "All, media, games, favoritesÖblah blah blah" to navigate between pages. I personally hate this, and i have it turn off on my blackberry phones. The iPad's way of organizing is simpler and more customizable. Also the PlayBook lacks folders.

    Thankfully, that will all change in OS 2.0. Of course this is simply a personal preference.


    Whew. I think that is all i can think of currently.

    Now, to summarized why i spent my time typing this and why i wasted your time in reading this incessantly long post. My whole point is simply to say this:
    The PlayBook has an amazingly intuitive UI, i might even say the best UI in the market. What it lacks is the support of developers. Simply, the lack of vital apps that most people use. But this is something that could still be changed, if RIM could find a way to get more developers on board. I understand that its just a matter of market share. iOS at the top with android at 2nd with so many manufacturers making the devices, and so many people buying it. Then comes RIM, which only makes one product currently running QNX. I don't blame the developers not wanting to develop native apps. But as RIM transit into QNX based OS in their entire product line, the demand will certainly be higher then. So i mean, the QNX platform has incredibly high potential to do well in the future if RIM plays it right. iPad can have a million more apps on it but it is unable to change how the UI works without a major redesign. The PlayBook already has a great UI, so all it needs now is apps. That's all.

    I'm still optimistic about the future of RIM, especially if the BB10 phones incorporates the UI from the PlayBook and gets at least the popular apps that most people uses.

    RIMpire will strike back!
    01-02-12 05:14 AM
  2. Alex_Hong's Avatar
    Just to make it clear, I'm not dissing Apple in any way. in fact i love Apple products. Just that when it comes to mobile devices, i prefer Blackberry.

    In fact, i worked in retail for a couple of years selling Apple products and i personally own many Apple products, including macbook, macbook pro, 2 macbook air, a couple of different generations of iPods, iPhones and other peripherals.

    If you want to correct or rebut any of my views, feel free to do so. But please, no flaming war here. To each his own, and leave it at that. Lets keep it clean.
    pmccartney likes this.
    01-02-12 05:26 AM
  3. anon3396357's Avatar
    I don't think the argument against PlayBook is against its UI. In fact many times it's been recognized as being intuitive, fresh, appealing.. although it does steal a lot from WebOS.

    IMO PlayBook's UI is better than iPad's. I rank Android(GingerBread and Honeycomb) the worst, after WebOS.
    Alex_Hong and kbz1960 like this.
    01-02-12 06:06 AM
  4. Toodeurep's Avatar
    I love my playbook and look forward to many great things. One thing worth mentioning is that apple added four finger gestures to ios5. You no longer have to use the button.
    Alex_Hong likes this.
    01-02-12 08:52 AM
  5. alnamvet68's Avatar
    Nice write up.
    Alex_Hong likes this.
    01-02-12 09:11 AM
  6. Alex_Hong's Avatar
    I love my playbook and look forward to many great things. One thing worth mentioning is that apple added four finger gestures to ios5. You no longer have to use the button.
    cool, i didn't know that. Thanks!

    for the list of gestures: Up close with iOS 5: New gestures | Macworld

    though theoretically the four or five finger gestures sounds good, when i tried it, it just feels.... a little weird. Even when i've been using their multi finger gestures on their laptops for quite some time already. Maybe i'm just too used to the playbook. Though to be fair, i would say that like most devices, once you get used to it, it should come quite naturally.

    What if i happen to lose my pinky and ring finger on my master hand in an accident? No more 4 finger swipe. hahaha.

    Jokes aside. No matter what, using a single finger is still easier for me. What the playbook achieves using one finger, iPad requires 4. its good to see Apple always trying to improve iOS's user interface to make it easier to use.

    Also just so you guys know, i don't own an iPad. A mate of mine just bought an iPad 2 today and he left it here for a day so i could help him "set it up" for him if you know what i mean. It was using it, that inspired me to do a comparison. i used to own a few of the older iOS devices, so it's nice to see how far along Apple has come thus far with iOS.
    Toodeurep likes this.
    01-02-12 12:32 PM
  7. blue-b's Avatar
    The beauty of the playbook o/s on a tablet has been making me wonder...for me the playbook ui is nearly perfect for myself on a tablet, it feels like an o/s made for tablet navigation. My worry though is going the other way, taking an interface that feels natural for a tablet, and moving it to a phone and make it feel just as good may be difficult. Saying that when using my iphone now, I hate having to press the home button!

    Will be interesting to see, I'm looking very forward to trying it out to see how it feels!
    Alex_Hong likes this.
    01-02-12 01:22 PM
  8. Toodeurep's Avatar
    "Jokes aside. No matter what, using a single finger is still easier for me. What the playbook achieves using one finger, iPad requires 4. its good to see Apple always trying to improve iOS's user interface to make it easier to use."

    Agreed, the Playbook's is the best I have seen thus far.
    Alex_Hong likes this.
    01-02-12 01:26 PM
  9. Blacklac's Avatar
    I have to agree. I think the Playbook's UI is incredible and will only be rivaled by W8/Metro UI. Now, I'm talking about from looks alone, not sales or market share. Tablet OS and WP Mango are my favorite Mobile OS's by far! Having used both, Tablet OS is currently more capable with its true multitasking and Flash support. Just my personal preference, but I truly love the Apps for WP, as most of them follow the unified Metro UI styling. Most 3rd party Apps look native and it makes for a very unified and clean experience. I'm glad I own both. Competition is good!
    01-02-12 01:36 PM
  10. blackjack93117's Avatar
    I love my playbook and look forward to many great things. One thing worth mentioning is that apple added four finger gestures to ios5. You no longer have to use the button.
    You're joking right? If so that's hilarious, if not that's hilarious also.

    four fingers?? what does that tell you about the UI? Rarely use more than one on the PB. I think I'd just use the button.
    Last edited by blackjack93117; 01-02-12 at 02:55 PM.
    01-02-12 02:35 PM
  11. sk8er_tor's Avatar
    I also agree with posts above. The PlayBook's UI is very intuitive; the best out of all tablets on the market. Now, bring on OS 2!
    01-02-12 02:38 PM
  12. blue-b's Avatar
    I love my playbook and look forward to many great things. One thing worth mentioning is that apple added four finger gestures to ios5. You no longer have to use the button.
    ios5 provided a bad user experience on my 3gs, it was very sluggish. I'll try the 5.01 update soon I guess. Does anyone know if bb has a patent on the bezel swiping, or would that design appear elsewhere in the future? It is good advantage right now!
    01-02-12 03:02 PM
  13. Unsure2's Avatar
    A tablet is meant to be a chopped down, simplified computer, with a UI to match. If there is one thing a tablet UI needs to be, that is intuitive. I would say both the iPad and Playbook UI's are that. The first time I picked up and used an iPad, I could easily figure out how to open programs and how to get back to the main screen. The Playbook was a little less intuitive because of the bezel stroke needed, but ok once that was understood.
    01-02-12 03:07 PM
  14. blackjack93117's Avatar
    I remember when double clicking the mouse in Windows was not intuitive. It had to be learned, but really not that difficult, and after that first "aha! " moment, never forgotten.

    BTW beautiful write up OP. Thanks for taking the time.
    Last edited by blackjack93117; 01-02-12 at 03:14 PM.
    Alex_Hong likes this.
    01-02-12 03:12 PM
  15. Unsure2's Avatar
    I remember when double clicking the mouse in Windows was not intuitive. It had to be learned, but really not that difficult, and after that first "aha! " moment, never forgotten.
    I did not like the mouse at all at first--greatly preferred the command line approach. Ah well, times change. I suppose it will be eye twitches, next.
    01-02-12 03:16 PM
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