The Blaq Introduction Series: UI Overview
Welcome to the first installment of the Blaq Introduction Series. Over the next week or so, we will bring to you a new aspect or feature of Blaq that you may not have known about or that may need a bit of explaining. Blaq isn’t just any ordinary Twitter client, so why should it have ordinary features? In this series, we will both introduce you to some of these extraordinary features, and also explain how they work.
For part one of the series, we’re going to be taking a brief tour of the overall user interface, including a few of the interesting or unique elements that make Blaq particularly special.
Here’s something we’re pretty proud of. Blaq’s timelines are a little different than you might be used to, in both looks and function.
The Home, Mention and DM timelines are all loaded side by side, and can even be set to refresh at different intervals in the settings menu. This is great for fine-tuning Blaq’s performance and efficiency on your device. Need a little more life out of your battery today? Drop down your DM and Home timeline refresh rates, and only let it check frequently for Mentions! One of the many mantras of a BlackBerry Super App is efficiency, and Blaq gives you unprecedented control over your device’s consumption.
The top icon dock, or “Top Shelf” as we like to call it, can be hidden or shown with a simple press of the space bar on keyboard devices without ever losing your place in the timeline. This gives you the option for more or less screen real estate for your tweets, whatever your preference may be.
There are also keyboard shortcuts for switching between timelines quickly, and you can even decide whether or not to display the smooth, sliding animated transitions between them. With trackball/trackpad devices, one quick flick left or right will slide you right into the next timeline for the ultimate ease of use.
Mentions and DMs couldn’t be any more noticeable in your timeline with prominent blue and green identifiers, respectively.
Blaq aims to make browsing your friends’ statuses easy and fast.
When it comes to images, Blaq handles common picture links a little differently than you might be used to. If you see an image link (e.g. TwitPic, yFrog, TweetPhoto), simply clicking on the tweet will launch the Blaq image viewer, which will show you the uploaded image right from the timeline. But that’s not all. Once the image you want to view is up on your screen, you can press the BlackBerry menu button, and select “Save Picture” to download the image to your phone.
Viewing a Tweet
Once you open a particular status, you’re met with a concentrated look at that particular message. Your typical options are all there. Selecting the reply icon will present you with the option to either reply to the sender or reply to all usernames in the message. The retweet icon lets you choose to either retweet with edits or retweet in Twitter.com fashion immediately. You can also send a direct message to the user from this screen. Scrolling down to the autor’s username and selecting it will take you to his or her profile page, and if the status is in reply to another, the blue bubbles to the right will take you the status being replied to.
For every user, there is a profile. You can get to a user’s profile several different ways, but once you’re here, you again are presented with several different options. You land on the user’s profile image, which if clicked will launch the same image viewer found on the timeline. You can follow or unfollow the user, depending on your previous friendship status, block them, or even view the user’s friends and followers. At the top of the page, you can select the user’s tweet count to view his timeline, and if he follows you, you will see the “BlaqOps” option at the upper-right corner — more on that later in this series.
New Tweet Screen
So you need to post a new tweet, eh? Blaq will have you doing it in style. Attach images from your pictures folder, shorten links with the custom bl4q.me URL shortener (Blaq also supports your own custom URL shorteners as well), launch the Friend Picker (also launches when an “@” symbol is typed) or attach your current location! There’s also an account picker, but again — we’ll cover that later in this series, too.
Blaq supports WhatTheTrend for when you need a little more detail as to what exactly the top trending topics are really all about. Take part in conversations that you otherwise may not have even known you could relate to!
In the settings menu, you can really drill down to make your Blaq experience truly yours. Change the refresh rates of your individual timelines, choose your picture uploading service and URL shortener, or even customize your notifications. You can also change your font size and manage your BlaqOut lists — you guessed it…more on that later.
So what do you think? We’ve been pretty closed-lipped about how things work with Blaq and, like most in-development apps, we’ve kept the looks of the app a secret for the most part, save for a few controlled leaks.
We’ll get more in-depth over the next week on some of the features that truly qualify Blaq as a Super App. We’ve hinted at a few of them, and we’ll get to those and a couple others as we get closer and closer to launch.
Stay tuned right here to catch the next installment of the Blaq Introduction Series, coming very soon.
All the best, and All. Blaq. Everything.