The Blaq Introduction Series: Next-Level Features
I’ve spoken several times before about how we started this project with the main goal being to create a visually stunning Twitter client for the BlackBerry community so desperately in need of new, great-looking apps. Little did I know, I would eventually come across an absolute rockstar developer who shared a lot of the same passions and goals as I did for breathing a little new life into an arguably stale platform. Together we set out to build a Twitter app that could hold it’s own feature-wise, but look darn good doing it. But at some point in development, things suddenly took a turn from good-looking and good enough, to good-looking and — groundbreaking.
As development progressed, things were going so smoothly, and we ran into so few issues trying to get the basics down, we gradually shifted to a mindset of, “What can we do to really set Blaq apart and make it something no one’s ever seen before?” We focused on this question throughout most of the 3 months since Blaq’s humble beginnings as a half-decent design on my computer. Keeping that new goal of turning an ordinary idea into an extraordinary product in the forefront of our minds eventually led us to the conception of two very special features that we couldn’t be more proud of.
The first of those features is Quick Tweet. This feature started out rather small, and gradually grew into something substantially more useful, and way cooler. From anywhere in the OS, simply open your BlackBerry menu, and at the top of the list (or near it, depending on what else you have installed on your device) is a “Quick Tweet” option. Selecting it will launch a Quick Tweet box over whatever you’re currently doing, and let you post tweets without ever opening the app. Blaq doesn’t even need to be running for this functionality to work. To take it a step further, we’ve designed a Quick Tweet plug-in that can be downloaded from the Settings menu. Once the super-lightweight 10KB add-on is installed, things really get convenient. You can then set Quick Tweet as one of your convenience key or Quick Launch shortcuts, giving you the ability to send fast, painless updates, even right from your BlackBerry homescreen.
Out of everything great that Blaq does, the thing we’re probably the most excited to share with you is what we’ve done with BlaqOps. Quite different from the next Call of Duty title, our BlaqOps is aimed more at connecting people in new ways — ones that don’t include guns. There are several different “operations” you can perform from within the application. If you see that another user is tweeting from Blaq and therefore has it installed on his or her BlackBerry, head to the user’s profile page. If he or she follows you, there will be a BlaqOps icon in the upper-right corner of the page. This is where things get fun…
Selecting the BlaqOps icon brings you to a pop-up menu asking you what you want to request. Depending on what item you select, Blaq will pull the corresponding information from your device and send a direct message to the selected user with a special code (e.g. #blaqBBM) and your information (in this case, your device’s PIN). When the recipient pulls the DM in with Blaq, instead of the application notifying them of a direct message, they will instead see a pop-up on their screen (regardless of where they are in the OS) with a message saying, “So-and-so wants you to contact them via BBM pin:XXXXXXXX”. You can then click on the PIN and with just one more click, you have formed a new connection with a friend from Twitter that you might not otherwise have made.
And all the other BlaqOps options work the exact same way, too. What started as just a neat novelty feature has blossomed into a whole new social experience. Get to know your friends on Twitter in whole new ways. The option of whether to further connect with people is still completely in your control. Just because someone sends their information to you, that doesn’t mean you have to do anything with it, and none of your info will ever leave your phone unless you initiate.
We want users to have more options for developing friendships, and we think BlaqOps is a cool and unique step in an awesome direction.
And with that, we conclude our Blaq Introduction Series. We hope to have left you more informed and even more excited about our project. We can’t wait to share it with you all!
If we didn’t cover something that you want to know more about, drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you’re still interested in learning more about, and perhaps we can either discuss is elsewhere or, if warranted, we can write another spotlight post to talk about it!
Thanks for taking this week-long walk-through with us. It won’t be long now before everyone will have the opportunity to play.
All the best, and All. Blaq. Everything.