05-15-2013 10:39 AM
I wanted to take this opportunity to detail my experiences and frustrations with the Q10 and why I have decided to return to the Bold 9900. I'd like to stress that these opinions are my own. I recognize that the industry has a whole has embraced the touch screen concept. But I believe this change isn't right for everyone as I hope to demonstrate below.
I am a very stanch supporter of the traditional Blackberry. I work in IT for a nearly 2,000 user organization. We have 36 IT people on staff and I am the only one still using a Blackberry. I choose to remain with my Bold 9900 for the sole reason that it is the most efficient device I have ever used. Every operation I'd ever want to perform with the device is only 2 or three physical clicks away and perhaps just as importantly, thanks to having physical buttons, those actions are performed in exactly the same way every time. It becomes muscle memory and can be performed regardless of the current state of the device. When the Q10 was announced, you'd be hard pressed to find someone more excited then me. I very much wanted this phone to succeed.
I have now been using the Q10 for a few days now and have encountered a number of what I personally consider show stopper functionality issues. These are issues that I believe are not simply related to my lack of familiarity with touch screens but an issue innate to the touchscreen concept itself. Some issues could be resolved through software updates while others simply cannot.
I have detailed a few of the more pressing frustrations I have below.
- First and foremost, I use an application on the 9900 called "ShortcutMe" by Fonware. This application allows you to write custom macros and assign them to any key on the keyboard. This provides a massively increased efficiency. From any application I'm in, I can press the same 3 physical buttons to have the phone launch anything I want (End Key to get to the main menu, space bar to activate shortcut me, the letter that matches up to the macro). For example, I have macros to quickly launch the flashlight as well as more complex macros to automatically toggle between enabling and disabling Caller ID. I decided to swtich devices when I discovered that Shortcutme now exists for OS10. Immediately after purchasing it however I received an email from Fonware stating that Blackberry currently doesn't allow access to any of the API's required for the macro functionality to work. They apologized. Because of these closed APIs, I can no longer map all of the functions I use the phone to physical keys which completely negates one of the biggest benefits there are to having an always present physical keyboard
- In messages, if you want to select "mark prior read" you can't because due to the nature of a touch screen, there is no concept of highlighting an object. A compromise exists where you click and hold on the date and then select "mark as read" from a popup menu that appears. However, this only appears to work for the start of each day. If you want to select all messages before a message in the middle of the day, you cannot. Additionally, the compromise forces you to select messages one at a time by tapping on them. I often receive bursts of automated alert messages that could be 30 or more messages in a row. With a track pad, I was able to quickly select just those messages mark them as read. I see no way of completing the same task as quickly with a touch screen
- A purely touchscreen interface demands restraint on behalf of the developers when building UI elements to provide a consistent experience. For example when you hold the phone in your hand, your thumb naturally rests on the keyboard and is within reach of all the keys, and where the trackpad and physical keys were. It would also be within reach of the bottom right of the screen where the back button often -- but not always -- is. For example, if you scroll through your messages and select one to read, the back button is at the bottom of the screen in easy reach. However, if you now try to reply to a message, the cancel button (which performs the same operation as back) is now at the physical top of the screen which requires you to completely shift how you're holding the phone to reach.
- Like all touchscreens, if your finger is slightly touching some other portion of the screen and you try to select an option, the phone doesn't respond until shift the phone in your hand so that you're so that you're only touching the button you intended. This results in unintended actions that simply cannot occur with a non-touch screen device.
- You can no longer access internal memory as a USB mass storage device. I wanted to copy a traditional telephone ring tone to the phone (because one is no longer included) but could not simply copy the file to the device through Windows Explorer. I had to insert my microSD card before this was possible.
- Blackberry is not allowing apps to run in the background which means my two must have apps (Shortcutme and Bebuzz) don't work as intended. In the case of Bebuzz, you're forced to leave an active frame opened with it to function.
- The applications shortcuts functionality no longer exists. For example, I can no longer press L to get to the calendar or hold K to lock the device. Instead it searches the device. On OS7, I could get to the same functionality by first pressing s. However, it was much more common that I wanted to jump between applications so why this is not a toggleable option is beyond me. (Admittedly, I do know why. OS10 is a completely different code base which means all of the subtle optimizations made to the legacy code base no longer exist and they are starting from scratch.)
- Memopad was replaced by Remember. Memopad was by design a simple application that served only one purpose -- quickly make notes about something quickly. Memopad was instant. Blackberry Remember admittedly has many more features but those features come at a cost of efficiency and usability. If these features were desired, they could have been made available in a separate app. There is a reason that notepad exists on Windows despite almost all systems also shipping with Word or similar. Also, when you do finally use the Remember application to enter text, you only get a tiny portion of the middle of the screen to actually see your entry. On the Bold 9900, you can see 12 lines of text. In remember, that is reduced to just 5.
- It is possible to use every function of the Bold 9900 with one hand thanks to the trackpad. This is far more difficult with the Q10. For example, try selecting and copying text that exists at the top of the screen on the Q10 with one hand.
- Playing solitaire and other card games on the Bold 9900 is simple enough to do and can be done with one hand and with little physical motion. Trying to play Solitaire on the Q10 is more cumbersome as it requires two hands in order to comfortably reach both sides of the screen. You also end up blocking the card you are trying to select with your finger. This may seem like a more esoteric example but its representative of the kinds of issues you have when trying to use a touch only interface
I could go on but I think it's clear where my frustrations lie. Blackberry has decided to abandon their most distinguishing competitive edge (the keyboard) and instead embrace the touch screen concept just like everyone else. And that is a shame.
If anyone shares any of these frustrations, please reply to this message and share your experiences. I'm curious if I am as unique in my opinions as it sometimes feels like.
- Robert Vance
05-15-2013 01:47 PM
I have a similar background and thought process as yourself. I have been a die hard Blackberry guy. I have had
(2) 8250's (with the side roller)
(2) 8330 Curve
My kids (2) 9360 Curve
Tried the Z10 and now the Q10.
I am normally very patient with technology. My rule is that I do not use the device until I have read the ENTIRE manual before I use it for the first time.
After using the Z10 for 2 weeks and the Q10 for a week, I will be going to a Samsung Galaxy S4. I am incredbily frustrated and not even sure that the S4 is the right solution.
Nothing can beat the track pad for efficency. My 9900 is simply bogging under the pressure of my use (over 5000 contacts and hundreds of pages of notes). I even deleted everything I can off the 9900 to make it last as long as I could.
The Q10 simply lacks the refinement we were promised. At it's core, it is not effecient and I cannot see how they will make it better. Calendar additions used to be 2 clicks, now it is 5 and I have to wait for things to load. On top of that, my bridge does not work properly (no contacts, no email, no calendar, no notes).....what is the point?
Here is what I cannot do well or at all
Select specific text
back out of certain areas without closing the app and going back in
Easily tell what email address I am sending from (I have 5 address for various reasons)
Shorcuts (that might just be me not doing enough research)
Easy notes (although I did find an app, but it will not hook up with my Outlook)
Enter Calendar events quickly
Mark multiple messages read or unread
Turn my phone off and have the alarm go off in the morning (Bedside mode is the new "OFF")
Entering Bedside mode is not easy (That I have found)
While I am on the subject of the Playbook, it has become very slow and almost unusable. Even something as simple as bringing up the keyboard or turning down the volume has a huge delay.
I have even developed and built a company on using the Playbook, but am now thinking of abandoning the entire platform....I live near Waterloo (the home of Blackberry).
I am VERY frustrated and do not know what to do. I feel like I cannot go back to the 9900 due to the slow downs and lock ups that I was experiencing. I WILL NOT go to iPhone (my kids have had several iDevices), my only choice seems to be the S4......
05-15-2013 05:45 PM
I completely agree with you, especially regarding your frustration of not knowing what to do. I have the luxury of switching back to the Bold 9900 for now but that isn't going to last forever. I spoke with a friend about this and he pointed out that the industry has spoken. Touch screens are here to stay and the market as a whole simply doesn't want the percision and accuracy that comes from a trackpad.
My friend went on to say:
"Ultimately, it's not that you're wrong. You're just such an exceptionally small fringe case, that you can't hope to win."
You're switching to the S4. I guess I'll try even harder to at least tolerate the Q10 and this new future that everyone seems to want.
It reminds me of a quote from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
"Would you rather be happy or right?"
I guess the choice has been made for me. Thanks for the reply Nathan.
05-15-2013 08:04 PM
the problem is BB had a loyal following and made no effort to consider our concerns. There are lots of problems and they forgot what their cutomer wanted. i hate the touch screen as well it takes so long to do anything. The e-maildeletions fron the computer make the BB a pain in the **bleep**. Doesn't help me organize because i want e-mail off my BB.
also some stupid problems i am having and there is no-one to talk to.
The problem is these companies today, especially in tech have NO CUSTOER SUPPORT and don't care to . I've left messages at BB in Waterloo and never get a call back. If 1 of my emplotyees did that to a customer he;d be looking for a new job.
BB you need us more thzn we need you
A former very loyal custonmer and Canadian
05-15-2013 10:15 PM
I can't really comment on RIM/Blackberry's technical support. We have an enterprise agreement with them and when I've called them in the past for enterprise level support, I've generally had an acceptable response. Not fantastic but certainly passable.
I do agree that in their quest to catch up with their competitors, they tried too hard at the "me too" approach and thus made a phone just like everyone else. I would very much love to know just how many of "us" (people that appreciate the tweaks and efficiencies of the older Blackberry design) are out there.
If my friend is correct, while we do exist, we represent a small enough market that it's not financially viable to cater to us. But then of course that means they are throwing their hat into the iphone/android ring and that is a fight they simply can't win.
Thorsten Heins seemed like he understood these market realities but... well, I can't pretend to know what happened behind closed doors. As a Canadian, I very much want Blackberry to remain relevant. Perhaps the Q5 will shine in emerging markets. We'll see what happens I guess.
I'd like to comment on one more oversight I ran into today that I think perfectly encompasses all that I'm frustrated with. I sent an email to my boss today from my desktop and wanted to review it on the way home. On all previous blackberries, I would simply open the messages application and press alt-o (for outgoing or sent messages). When I was done I would press the back button to be returned.
I tried the same key combination and... nothing happened. It seems the only option you have is to go into the folder view, scroll down and select sent items. When you're done, select the folder again and select inbox.
Why do I think this is such a big deal? I suspect the keyboard shortcuts within the messaging application are well used by Blackberry's core customer base. The fact that these shortcuts were not recoded into OS10 (as it has to be trivial to do so) strongly suggests they did not focus test these devices before public release. I hope and suspect they'll re-add this in 10.2 or similar but it speaks volumes that it wasn't present on release day.
I've decided to switch back to the 9900 tomorrow. I'll hang on to the improved workflows as long as I possibly can. Sure, the shock will be that much worse when I'm eventually forced to switch but I'll deal with that when it comes.
05-16-2013 01:41 AM
As excited I was about the new Q10, I find I am still working through "you'll get used to it, it will get better" syndrome.
I better as I have purchased and committed to a 3 year plan!?!
Call comes in - I want to click, without sliding to answer.
I want to feel a 'click' when I end a call, not tap a screen to end a call ... which I have found at times does not end a call unless I tap again and then check to make sure call has ended. Weird & embarrassing.
I need to use 2 hands as opposed to one hand to cancel out of things and send things at times - try search and see where that cancel button is.
Button at the top, not quite working for me.
New message notification comes in ... now I have to slide, swip, select to just see what it is.
If I do not want to do that, now I need to use 'that top button' to unlock device, unfortunately my thumb can not really be used for this - sucks!
On the plus side ... Fast, powerful and do see lot's of potential.
What really would make this for me:
1. HUB button - getting to it without having to slide ... or someone make a 'hub button icon' please.
2. Call/end buttons - on glass screen is my only option now - not tactile anymore.
3. Programmable keyboard Hot keys - launch this, launch that ...
3. Additional side launch buttons that I can custom program
I need to put more effort in to swiping, rather than click a simple button to start things ... in addition, I need to pay more attention to making sure I swipe properly. Yes fancy, but really functional?
Remember Windows 8?
Yes I have it, but guess what, I work in desktop mode ... at least they gave me that option.
They took away the 'Start' button from desktop ... how did that work out?
A BlackBerry device should at least be able to give me 'choice' with options - make the thing longer if you have to, but add another row of 'action buttons'.
I recall seeing someone on the business network before the launch basically saying not having a 'home button' (or some button) will cause issues ... I see it now.
Why I loved my old BlackBerry
It was tactile ... I could hold it, feel it, tinker with it.
Remember playing with the knobs on old stereos, one could precisely adjust to desired volume. Same applies to physical knobs in vehicles, one could find and adjust AC without having to guess within which sub-menu on a glass screen it was.
Q10 and BB10 is on the right track ... but I sure do miss some buttons.
05-16-2013 04:29 AM
I cannot agree with you more. While I am not as much of a "tech" user as you are, I am a very longstanding BlackBerry user, having started using it since the first devices came out. I only just started trying out the Q10 last night, and the problems I have discovered include (1) the Alt-O issue you discovered, (2) the inability (it seems) to do combination searches of people within my contacts (e.g., be able to type in someone's last name plus his/her company name to get to the right person), (3) greater difficulty navigating and using the core email, contacts, and calendar funcitons, and (4) the inability to have contacts that are show with last name first. I also still very much miss the trackpad, as things cannot seem to be done as precisely as I could before with the 9900. I recognize that not all of these things are necessarily individually a major problem, but it does indicate -- as you've noted -- that BlackBerry seems to have (1) forgotten about the core, hardcore users (the ones that have stuck with them through thick and thin) and (2) forgotten to properly user test these BB10 before it was released.
I am rather frustrated with the Q10 so far, although I was glad to see some improvements, such as the ability to use rich text in emails (however still strange that this functionality cannot be extended to signatures).
BlackBerry (RIM), PLEASE pay attention to your core users and make the requisite changes. I fully expected the Q10 to incorporate all the longstanding keyboard shortcuts from the previous devices/OS. This IS a critical part of what makes the BlackBerry the BlackBerry. Removing the trackpad is one thing, although I'm not sure I will ever get used to solely using the touchscreen. Getting rid of much of those critical keyboard shortcuts seem rather careless and unthoughtful.
05-16-2013 07:36 AM
I agree with all the frustrations mentioned. Here are a few more show stoppers for me:
- Speed dialing using the keyboard only works when you go into the phone app and go into keypad! Too many key presses now to be a true speed dial function! This was perfect on the 9900 and previous BBs.
- Looking up a number to dial from your contacts was so easy with the 9900 and previous BBs. Not so with the Q10. the Search only displays the first two entries; you have to select tothe down arrow to show the rest! On the 9900 the search reset when you left the app. Now with the Q10, you have to manually clear the search each time!
- Contacts not syncronising properly with Outlook! "Other" phone field does not appear on Q10! "Pager" field appears but you can not call or text the number! I have many contacts with more than one cellular numbers which i store under "Other" or "Pager" or "Car" which I can not now use with the Q10. This worked perfectly with the 9900 and all previous BBs I had.
The last point is the biggest issue for me, as I cannot live with only part of my contacts! If anyone knows a way round this please let me know...
It's a sad day for BB. After more than a dozen BBs, I waited so long with such anticipation for the Q10, always defending BB against all comments from friends and colleagues! I really feel let down...
I really hope someone shows this string of comments to RIM's ceo.
Ex-loyal BB user
05-16-2013 07:46 AM
If only the 9900 could be upgraded with more storage and a lot more RAM onboard so as not to freeze up. In so many ways, I wish I could go back to OS7 and the Bold. Thus far, the only meaningful improvement I see if the ability to compose rich text emails. Everything else just does not seem the same...and most importantly does not appear to be a meaningful improvement.
I say this with much regret, as I have been a hardcore fan of the BlackBerry for so many years. Like everyone else here, I wish the folks at BlackBerry take note of this and implement a full fix soon. One has to wonder how many people at BB's development team have been around long enough to really understand where the BB started from and the needs of its core users. If I wanted a consumer product, I'd go with iOS -- at least Apple has an elegant and intuitive solution.
05-16-2013 10:23 AM
Thanks for all the responses so far. It is comforting to realize that I'm not alone in my frustrations with new direction of Blackberry.
To address some of the specific comments made so far:
I too have struggled with the lack of a physical button to hang up the phone. I actually left a call active during a meeting yesterday when I received a call unexpectedly and quickly tried to hang up on them. Again, this will get easier with experience but I question why I need to. Imagine in the age when the TV remote control was first introduced and suddenly people could change channels faster than ever before. But then that TV company decided to abandon the remote control and put a fancy touch screen on the TV itself and labeled it as a feature. What progress are we really making here?
As for the potential of the Q10, there is tons of it. One concern of course is that Blackberry has already manufactured the device so we aren't going to be getting a physical row of buttons any time soon. So the question is what you do to fix the situation in its current state?
I think the first thing to remember is that we do already have a whole bunch of physical buttons to work with. It might be less intuitive than the physical ones but you work with what you've got. First, I'd re-implement the application shortcuts that activate from the active tiles or application icon screens. P for Phone, L for Calendar, M for messages, etc. I'd then implement all of the specific shortcuts for core applications (alt-o for messaging for example).
Then, I'd note that my phone has a giant physical button on it called the space bar. I'd note that the buttons can be context aware. So if active call is coming in, the space bar could be used to answer the call. Again, not ideal but I think would be an acceptable compromise.
Windows 8 is a great analogy. I'm running it right now. I really, really tried to use the new UI paradigm but I just found it so incredibly inefficient. The thing is though, because Windows 8 is purely software, this was a solvable problem. I installed Classic Shell and then got the efficient UI but also all of other benefits that came with Windows 8. Blackberry being a hardware platform first doesn’t have that luxury.
I'm afraid I have no suggestions on your contacts issue. Is this a corporate device? This is just wild speculation but perhaps those additional fields only function when the device is connected to BES10. (I'm only using ActiveSync right now since my company refuses to pay for BES10 since our CTO refuses to allow any new Blackberry activations.)
The hardware has considerable potential which is why I think all of us and even the media at large were excited when this device was first launched. Most of the reporting I saw after the launch of the Z10 but before the Q10 said to the effect "Sure, the Z10 launched and wasn't a huge success. But it wasn't a proper Blackberry. That will be the Q10."
Sadly, that turned out to be untrue.