At the tail end of last week, BlackBerry and its CEO John Chen gave us a couple of peeks at the upcoming BlackBerry Passport, a device that combines a large, square touchscreen with a QWERTY keyboard. Today BlackBerry is giving us another early look at the Passport, but this time it’s focusing squarely on the device’s keyboard.
BlackBerry says that the Passport will feature a “touch-enabled keyboard” that offers both a tactile feel as well as capacitive touch technology. Users will be able to navigate through websites, emails and more by “lightly brushing” their fingers over the keyboard. Other features of the Passport’s touch-enabled keyboard include:
- Scrolling: As noted above, you can use the keyboard to swipe up and down to scroll on long lists or in the browser. Keeping your fingers off the screen and focused on what’s happening.
- Cursor Control and Text Selection: This is a classic BlackBerry productivity enhancement reinvented for the Passport. Double-tap the keyboard, then drag your finger across the keyboard to drop the cursor at precisely the right point. Or select the text just as you would on an older BlackBerry: hold the SHIFT key while dragging your finger across the keyboard to extend a selection.
- Contextual virtual keys: In addition to the Passport’s very clean physical QWERTY keyboard, we have added a dynamic virtual row on-screen that smartly shifts depending on context. So if you’re typing a password on-screen, numbers and symbols commonly used in passwords will automatically pop up. Or if you’re typing an e-mail address, the ‘@’ symbol will be displayed. Or if you’re surfing the Web, the colon and backslash characters needed to type in a URL will be displayed. And if you need access to any special symbol or character, just swipe down on the keyboard to see all of them at once. Like I said, smart!
- Flick: Stuck on a word? BlackBerry 10’s Next Word Suggestion feature learns from you to give you smart, personalized choice of words you’re likely to type. You then just flick up to complete the word. No more Darn Auto-Corrects, as you type faster and more accurately over all.
- Delete: Made a mistake? No problem, just swipe back (left) to Delete the last word, just like on our virtual keyboard!
- Entering an accented character? Hold the letter key down, and then lightly tap on the key to add the appropriate accent!
With this unique touch-enabled keyboard, the Passport sounds like it’ll offer the adaptability of touchscreen QWERTYs along with the tactility and accuracy of physical ‘boards. We’ll have to wait and see how the Passport performs in real life before making any judgments about it, but so far it sounds like it’ll offer a nice touch-and-QWERTY combo for BlackBerry fans.
The BlackBerry Passport is expected to hit stores in September. Does this news about the Passport’s touch-enabled keyboard pique your interest in the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphone?
Via Inside BlackBerry (1), (2)