It’s no secret that I love my BlackBerry devices. I have a BlackBerry in my hand for a good 60% of the day. One of the things I love most about BlackBerry is how easy it makes it to work on the go. I wrote about my Blackberry Classic and how much I loved it and the difficulties in choosing a case for it. I’ve found the same thing with my BlackBerry Passport. I love the Passport even more than the Classic. At first I thought it was going to be too big. I looked down at the device in the box and thought “I’ll probably be using the Classic again within a month”. Well, I was wrong. So very wrong. The Classic has found a new home in the hands of my dad, and the Passport is mine, all mine. I mentioned with regards to the Classic how much I had missed the physical keyboard even though I had loved my Z30 with all my heart. Well the Passport takes the keyboard experience to a whole new level. It just feels right. The screen width on the Passport makes reading text a breeze – the wider screen allows more characters which reduces scrolling (and makes me a happier reader). Contrary to what I thought before I had a Passport, the Passport does fit in my pants pocket, and in my purse, so it goes pretty much everywhere I go. I have a BlackBerry hard shell case on it 90% of the time and a Folio case with a credit card slot the rest of the time (It’s an aftermarket one, but needs improvements if it was going to be a daily driver).
When I said that I would blog about Blaq later, I didn’t think it would be later today. I am at BlackBerry Live in Orlando next week and I’m not bringing my laptop so I figured I should probably write the review sooner rather than later.
From day 1 with my Z10, I was frustrated by the native Twitter client (Twitter for BlackBerry). I realize that it is as functional as Twitter for Android and Twitter for iOS, but I’ve been spoiled with Twitter for BlackBerry 7. I expected the Twitter client on the BlackBerry 10 devices to be just as functional, and when it wasn’t I was disappointed. I tried a number of other Twitter clients in the first two months I had my Z10: Tweetings, Neatly, RewitQ, and Twitter for BlackBerry 10. Each of them had some advantages but they were either too slow, too frustrating to use, or missing key features (like lists).
As many of you know, I’m a Twitter junkie. I need a fairly robust application to use on a daily basis. One of my favourite features on Twitter is the ability to sort your followers into lists and follow those lists. I follow over 1600 people on twitter, and, though I do Twitter purges on a regular basis where I unfollow accounts that are no longer relevant to me, it can still be a lot to handle. Lists allow me sort the people I follow into groups such as “Formula 1 fans”, “CFL” , and “Journalists” and only follow those streams when I’m feeling overwhelmed. For example, Monday May 6th was the CFL draft and though I love all my tweeps, I was trying to keep up with the draft picks as they happened. I opened Twitter on my laptop, went to lists, and selected my football list. Everything else in my stream disappeared and I could pretend that the world outside of football had melted away for awhile. None of the apps I had on my Z10 before Blaq allowed me to follow lists easily.
Aside from Lists, the other features that I want in a Twitter application are, in order of importance to me:
- Multiple Account Support (preferably 3)
- The ability to quote Tweets when retweeting
- The ability to Mute hashtags (Sometimes, I just don’t want to hear about #PeopleIWantToPunch)
- Real time refresh rate.
It’s not a huge or particularly demanding list, yet until Blaq was released no single Twitter application for BlackBerry 10 had all the features I wanted. Right now Blaq only allows you to have 2 accounts but I’ve heard that support for 3 is coming and I still have the other applications so the accounts I use less frequently are set up on those.
Blaq is relatively easy to use. When you first download it, you need to authorize it to access your twitter account, this is pretty standard. Once you’ve done this the screen will pull in your account and change to the main screen. The main screen looks like this:
The green bar at the top is called the timeline progress bar and fills up as you get closer to the newest tweets in your stream. The clock on the green bar shows the time of the tweet you’re on while the clock in the top right shows the current time.
From the main screen, it takes a quick swipe to navigate within the app. Swiping right gets you the most options:
To make it easier to understand what each of these options are, I’ve numbered them.
- Mute: Allows you to mute a person or a hashtag. This can be helpful if there is a twitter party going on and you’re not participating. Selecting this option and then “add mute” on the next screen brings up a page where you can enter your criteria for what you want muted. You can also un-mute from this screen.
- Search: Lets you search Twitter for a username or hashtag. Blaq imports saved searches but you can delete them at any time.
- Me: takes you to your profile page. You can see your followers, who is following you, how many tweets you’ve tweeted, and lots of other fun stuff.
- Favourites: When you favourite a tweet, they are marked with a star. You can find them again later by selecting this option.
- Lists – All of your twitter lists are here. Currently, you can’t edit lists from Blaq but if that changes, I will let you know!
- Retweets – These are tweets of yours that have been retweeted.
- Direct Messages – you can read and compose direct messages from here.
- Mentions – these are all of your @ replies.
- Home – this takes you back to your whole twitter feed.
- Compose – Tap this to compose a new tweet.
When you swipe down from the top of the screen, you get a much smaller menu: Accounts lets you add another account or switch between accounts, while Settings allows you to change the font size, set the refresh rate while the app is inactive, and access the tutorial again by selecting Help.
Finally, swiping left allows you to access options directly related to the tweet you are viewing. This is the action that is the least intuitive in Blaq. To access this menu, touch a tweet and then pull left. While holding the menu open, pull the list up or down to access the different options.
- Allows you to reply to the tweet.
- Allows you to retweet the tweet to your followers. (By default the app will confirm that this is an action you want to do)
- Marks the tweet as a favourite (again, the default is set to confirm that you want to favourite the tweet)
- Options. If the tweet is one that you sent, you can delete it from here.
Earlier, I mentioned that one of my “must have” features in a twitter app is the ability to quote tweets. You need to select the tweet by tapping it so that it opens up in its own screen. When the tweet is isolated, touch and hold the retweet button (Circled in red below), and select the Middle option “Quote Retweet”.
- Classic retweet – a nice and simple way to retweet
- Quote – puts the item you are retweeting in quotes – useful if you’re going to modify the tweet in any way.
- Retweet via – a type of retweet I’m beginning to use a lot more often – great for websites – takes the text of the tweet and then at the end puts (via @username). It’s a stylistic choice but one that I quite enjoy.
One last thing about Blaq. By default, Blaq connects itself to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). You get an option on every tweet and retweet to send the message as your BBM status or share it with BBM contacts. I don’t like that option, and so I turned it off. To do this is a little tricky though. You need to go to the Settings menu on your BlackBerry (it looks like a cog) –> Security and Privacy –>Application Permissions –>Blaq and switch “Connect to BBM” to off.
In a nutshell, that’s Blaq for BlackBerry 10. Have you tried Blaq for BlackBerry 10 yet? What do you think of it?