Don Lindsay, RIM VP of UX, Gives A Brief History of BlackBerry 10′s “Peek” Feature

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During the keynotes at BlackBerry Jam Americas, Don Lindsay took the stage to talk about BlackBerry 10′s User Experience and Interface design. Lindsay has an interesting background as he was Design Director at Microsoft Live Labs and Design Director of Mac OS User Experience Group at Apple. If RIM is going to have a competitive smartphone user experience, he’s definitely the man to help get the job done. Lindsay explained the origins of Peek and it’s a really cool story.


YouTube link for mobile viewing.

Don explained that one of the main questions when creating BlackBerry 10 was “how do we make BlackBerry users more efficient?”. The Design team knew there was a problem in the mobile industry where users were constantly using the home button and interrupting the work or play flow. Something had to be done to address this problem and create a consistent, uninterrupted experience.

Peek addresses this issue by allowing the user to quickly glance at a notification or message without actually leaving the current application. The analogy often used is that it’s like looking at your watch. You turn your wrist in a single gesture to view the time, and turn your wrist back in the opposite direction when you’re finished. Peek employs a similar motion. Swipe to peek at the notification, and swipe back in the opposite direction to return to what you’re doing.

Here are a few scenarios where you might use Peek:

1. How many times do you wake up a device just to look at the time? With Peek, you can wake up the device by swiping from the bottom to top, then swipe down from top to bottom. Peek allows you to quickly view the time without having to go through a full device wakeup process.

2. Everyone loves the BlackBerry flashing red LED. Let’s say you were in a browser session and the light starts blinking. Today, you’d have to leave the browser, navigate to messages, or task switch to messages. In both scenarios you leave the browser. Peek allows you to just quicky check what type of message it is, and move your finger to the left to “Peek” into the messages app to see who is messaging you. There are three phases of “should i deal with this?” rather than “I’m dealing with this” for every notification.

3. Let’s say you’re in the middle of an email and the red LED flashes. With Peek, you can see who messaged you and then if you decide, you can leave the current message and reply. If you decide that you don’t want to reply, you can back out and you’ll return to the exact same spot where you left off. Before Peek, you would not be able to easily return to the same message.

What’s really exciting is how developers will be able to leverage Peek to create more compelling applications. More on this in another article.