Blaq for BlackBerry 10: The Power of BB10 Developer Platform in Practice

Blaq.TwitterAccountBlaq for BlackBerry PlayBook was a popular Twitter application that provided a few extra features beyond simply following a Twitter feed. It certainly went beyond the normal Twitter client; however, one had the feeling they could make some improvements (and have regularly put out updates).

However, earlier this week we learned where its developer team, Kisai Labs, has been focusing their resources when they announced the release of Blaq for BlackBerry 10. It is one entrancing and seductive Twitter application that goes way beyond the standard Twitter client on the BlackBerry 10.

Some criteria for a Twitter app include:

  • Follow multiple Twitter accounts
  • Real time stream of the Twitter feed
  • Ability to Reply, Retweet, “Favorite” a tweet
    • access to the URL for a Tweet
  • Access to the Twitter profile of a user:
    • Follow/Unfollow a user
    • Send direct messages
    • Learn about the users Twitter ecosystem (Follower, Following, tweet count, website link)
  • Display on one screen tweet threads involving multiple replies
  • Search for a user’s tweets and/or all references to a user
  • Access to Saved Searches, Lists

In addition one wants the application to be “fast”, responsive to every touch or gesture, and easy, almost intuitive, to use.

Blaq for BlackBerry 10 is a native BlackBerry 10 app that has been developed “from the ground-up” using all the features available to developers. Features include:

    • Support for two Twitter accounts (more to come in updates)
    • Main feed streaming in real time – with very fast scrolling (did someone say “keep moving”?)
    • A very interesting timeline bar at the top shows a “secondary” time where the tweets on your screen are in time relative to the current time
      • tap on the timeline bar to go to most recent tweets

  • Most comprehensive use of the gesturing engine native to BlackBerry 10:
    • Swipe on the timeline feed to the right and you get a menu covering Twitter feed, responses, direct messages, lists and favourites
      • also access to Search and Mute features as well as your own Twitter account information
    • Swipe an individual tweet to the left, followed by up or down to select reply, retweet, “favorite” and other action from the right sidebar
    • Gesture the entire feed down and it rubber bands to update
      • very fast scrolling through the feed
    • Swipe down from the top for the application menu (Accounts, Settings, Help)
  • A tweet detail screen that has not only reply, retweet (including RT with edit), “favorite” and “options” icons.
    • It also will show a full conversation thread if appropriate.
  • Share from almost any application to Blaq via the Share screen
  • Access to Saved searches (as set up in your Twitter account on a browser)
  • On minimizing, Blaq goes into a low power mode to conserve battery
  • A short, but complete, reference Help file to provide initial training on the gestures available

Let’s have a look at some screenshots (click on image, then click on right side of light box for “Next”, left side for “Previous”):

 

Blaq.TwitterAccount.jpgBottom line: Blaq for BlackBerry 10 has quickly become my preferred Twitter app, not only for its feature set but also for its overall speed and ease of navigation. I can rapidly scroll through my timeline, access an entire thread and not only Search but also access Saved Searches. Obtaining information about a user is easily available along with access to their tweets, Followers and Followed lists as well as any URL link on their user profile.

Beyond becoming my preferred Twitter app, Blaq for BlackBerry 10 is a prime example of exploiting a wide range of BlackBerry 10 features, its underlying real time multi-tasking and its accompanying developer toolkits. Cascades UI , Share screens, amongst other tools, along with its overall speed and snappiness contribute to its uniqueness and rich user feature set. It makes very effective use of the screen real estate available while easily navigating amongst its features. While it supports the Q10’s 720 x 720 display, it is one application where having the larger 1280 x 720 display of the Z10 is advantageous. In summary, it enhances BlackBerry 10’s primary perception as a communications-focused smartphone.

It’s well worth the $2.99 introductory price; initial reports indicate it has become one of BlackBerry World’s most downloaded BlackBerry 10 applications.

However, even according to their own information, there are enhancements coming. I would like to see:

  • support for landscape mode (especially for pictures and videos)
  • support for more than two accounts
  • Ability to Save a Search (currently sees searches saved via the Twitter web page)
  • Ability to build Lists.

One final caveat: Our one hope has to be that Blaq will be able to continue its functioning at a time when Twitter itself is trying to de-emphasize applications for the mobile web.

About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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