A Functional Bezel

The PlayBook supports all of the basic gestures we've come to expect from mobile devices with a capacitive touchscreen. There's flick to scroll, pinch to zoom and pretty much anything else you'll encounter on an iOS or Android based device. What RIM adds with the PlayBook are gestures that originate in the bezel of the device.

Any gestures within the 7-inch LCD area control the currently running app. Any gestures that originate in the bezel around the screen however are a different story. The first is the unlock gesture. Swipe up/down, left/right or the opposite direction when the PlayBook is asleep and you'll wake it up. There's no support for passcode locking and no physical unlock switch (although the power button will work in a pinch) - all you need to do is take one finger starting from a point on the bezel and slide it up or across. I've noticed that you have to be pretty committed when unlocking, anything less than swiping up/across 50% of the screen won't register as an unlock swipe. I suspect this is to ensure that no accidental swipes unlock the PlayBook when in your pocket/purse/othercavity.

Once unlocked, a swipe up from the bottom bezel will do one of two things depending on the state of the PlayBook. If you're at the home screen, swiping up from the bottom bezel brings up the entire app launcher instead of just the top row of apps. If you're in an app, a swipe up will reduce the active app to a thumbnail, expose the webOS-style task switcher and display a part of the home screen.

Swipe from the top bezel downward within an app and you'll either reveal a contextual menu for the app or you'll pull down the system settings page.

What about the left/right bezel? That's what you use to quickly switch between apps of course. Imagine an infinitely wide desktop where your viewport is big enough to hold on full screen app. To get to any active (even paused) app to the left or right of what you're currently looking at, just swipe left (or right) beginning in the bezel and you'll swap apps. If you only have one app running the OS will try to animate your current app sliding away but it'll bounce back, as if to tell you that you've reached the end of the horizontal list.

The bezel gestures don't stop there. Swipe up from the lower left corner and you'll bring up the PlayBook's virtual keyboard, in any app. This is a particularly puzzling gesture because you can bring up the keyboard even in apps that can't use a keyboard. And no, the keyboard shortcuts from the BlackBerry OS don't work on the PlayBook.

The lower right corner doesn't do anything but swipe from either of the upper two corners and you activate what RIM calls the peek gesture. The peek gesture gives you a quick look at the top status bar - including any notifications, date/time and battery status.

The bezel based gestures work well on the PlayBook although I'm not sure how long term of a solution this will be. Users tend to prefer thinner bezels - a direction I ultimately see all tablets going.

Introduction QNX: The PlayBook OS
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  • jjj - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - link

    In the final words it would be worth reminding readers that it has no SD card slot, IMO a fundamental feature for phones/tablets nowdays. Reply
  • Azethoth - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    That is a curious statement. What do you want lots of memory for?

    I can see memory being better for a phone that you listen to music from as more memory = more of your (compressed) library can fit on it. Personally I only sync particular playlists to my phone / iPad anyway.

    As for other stuff, well apps just do not consume a large amount of space. For my iPad 2 I went with the smallest memory size. The larger size I have on my original, er I mean on my sister's "new" iPad, was just a waste for me.
    Reply
  • Chloiber - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Because it's an easy way to share things and upgrade your memory if you need more. I won't pay 100$ for 16GB of NAND flash (which cost's like 15$). Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    For a device that can shoot and play 1080p video 16GB-64GB of storage is very little (and anything above 16GB is way too costly) Then there are also photos,music,apps that maybe soon will be actually able to do things and become bigger,it is after all a computing device and even if smartphones/tablets are in their infancy we can still hope that they mature sooner rather than later. Reply
  • BuffyzDead - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    "The screen is too small to comfortably read in portrait mode and even in landscape things can get a bit cramped." Steve Jobs already warned the entire industry on this point. It's too small to be a successful tablet. Everyone has portability in their Smartphone.

    "Apple's A5 still has a much faster GPU" .and the playbook isn't even shipping yet

    "App launches are unfortunately a bit high latency. .....whole process takes a couple of seconds but it feels longer than firing up similar iOS or Honeycomb apps." just throw more CPU at the problem. You know, down the road.

    "With no email or calendar apps, the PlayBook doesn't have a whole lot to notify you of. Presently the only notifications the PlayBook will deliver have to do with remaining battery capacity." LOL at this one.

    I predict Now, this thing will never sell in volume. Even improved versions down the road won't sell.
    3 reasons:
    1) It's too small.
    2) The User Experience does not even come close to that of the iPad1
    3) NO APPS

    Yes, while there are company's that may force this down their employees throat, that is not where the growth of tablet use is coming from, in enterprise.

    It's coming 100% from employees wanting to use their iPad's in the work environment.

    You finish with:
    "there are still more revolutions that will take place between now and when the mobile market finally matures"

    Ask yourself, Honestly, is there ANYTHING about this "experiment for RIM"
    that has an inkling of REVOLUTION ????
    Reply
  • Azethoth - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    The proper quote is:
    "While Apple and Google are clearly out to a substantial lead, there are still more revolutions that will take place between now and when the mobile market finally matures. I'm not saying that Apple or Google won't end up on top, I'm just saying that it's not guaranteed they will either."
    and
    "The PlayBook is a reasonable experiment for RIM, but I need to see more to really recommend the tablet."

    See how in context Anand makes sense? Rather than claiming the ridiculous: "this RIM tablet is a revolution", Anand is merely saying that this is an immature industry. Everyone fully expects actual game changing revolutions in this area in the future.

    Search this site for Anand's excellent follow up to the iPad 2 release that asks: "How do I as a blogger use a tablet to create [text] content". There were some responses about maybe covers that double as keyboards. There was wishful thinking about voice input maturing real soon now. Mostly there is a need for some kind of interface revolution before a tablet can become a reasonable answer for a blogger on the go. These are the revolutions Anand needs in a tablet.
    Reply
  • BuffyzDead - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Correct !
    I wholeheartedly agree with Anand's review and conclusion:
    There are no guarantee's what the future may hold and he can not recommend this Playbook.

    1) I wanted to add that this Playbook will in fact be a total failure. Time will prove me right or wrong. Again, I predict Total Failure.

    2) I wanted to point out how RIM, as is evident by this Playbook version 1,
    has demonstrated Zero in it's capability to provide ANY REVOLUTION.
    At most, it's an outright attempt to copy or emulate (poorly) what the iPad REVOLUTION IS.

    BTW,
    If you think that "designing a tablet" to cater to "the blogger on the go" is a measure of success, then I pray for RIM's sake, you are not on their design team.

    Anand has repeatedly pointed out how a tablet might just not be for him, in general.
    I have maintained for the past 15 months that the iPad's true REVOLUTION, is that it CREATED a NEW MARKET.

    ALL of Apples competitors are playing catchup & copycat to cater to that NEW MARKET, which the iPad CREATED.
    Reply
  • SandmanWN - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    For real... lay off the coffee and Jobs shlong. Reply
  • melgross - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    For real, it's the only tablet so far that sold more than a small number. As many others have pointed out, so far the tablet market is really the iPad market. Other manufacturers have to prove that they can sell a large number of devices. We know that the Tab, is not a real tablet by Google's standards, and that it sold in much smaller numbers than the number shipped to retailers and cell companies. The Xoom is assumed to have managed about 100,000 sales, and what else has there been that seriously competes?

    Now, the Playbook, which has been criticized by those in the industry for having poor battery life, and problems with the software before release, despite RIM,s denials, is proving, from all the reviews I've now read today, to be having all of those problems just days before release. Pogue has stated that RIM is feverishly sending out updated on a daily basis. That's not good.

    Other tablets won't arrive for at least a couple more months.

    So what does the market really consist of now?
    Reply
  • melgross - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    It's hard to say. There are a lot of writers who have said that they type just fine on the iPad's virtual keyboard. Everyone's different. I remember a lot of people complaining about the first iPhone's keyboard, but since then, many, if not most new smartphones have no physical keyboards anymore, so people are getting used to them.

    I'm typing on my iPad2 now. The only complaints about the way Apple set it up are that I think that too much space is wasted on the two large numeric keyboard call up keys at the bottom of the keyboard, much of which could have been used for other functions, such as an "@" key, for instance. Otherwise, it's fine. On a 7" screen, typing for longer periods will be more problematical.
    Reply

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