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Keyboard

Depending on the BlackBerry device model, users can type text, numbers, or symbols using a physical keyboard, virtual keyboard, or both.

Physical keyboard

A physical keyboard provides users with a keyboard that is similar in layout to the keyboard on a computer, except that numbers and symbols are located in different places.

In addition to typing text, users can also use the keyboard to move around a screen (for example, to move around a map). However, navigation using the keyboard should be the alternative to navigation using the trackpad.


This illustration shows the full physical keyboard.


This illustration shows the navigation keys.

Virtual keyboard

If users are using a touch screen, a virtual keyboard appears when users need to type text. Virtual keyboards appear in portrait or landscape view. Virtual keyboards appear as a full keyboard or a reduced keyboard.


This illustration shows the full keyboard on a touch screen device.

Reduced keyboards use SureType technology, which is designed to predict words as users type them. Users can type text using the SureType input method or the multi-tap input method. The SureType input method is the default input method for most fields. The multi-tap input method is the default input method for phone number fields and password fields. Some languages, such as Simplified Chinese, have specialized input methods and do not use the SureType input method or the multi-tap input method. For more information about specialized input methods for specific devices and languages, visit http://na.blackberry.com/eng/support/docs/ to see the product documentation.


This illustration shows the reduced keyboard on a touch screen device.

Keyboards consist of character keys and modifier keys. Character keys send a character to the BlackBerry device. A modifier key alters the functionality of character keys. Modifier keys include the Shift key and the Alt key. When users press a modifier key, a typing mode indicator appears in the upper-right corner of the screen.

Users can perform the following actions to type numbers and symbols:

User goal

Action using a physical keyboard

Action using a virtual keyboard

Type a number in a number field.

Press the number key.

Press the number key.

Type a number in a text field.

Press the Alt key and the number key.

Press the 123 key.

Type a common symbol.

Press the Alt key and the character key.

Press the 123 key.

Type other symbols.

Press the Symbol key.

Press the Symbol key.

Users can touch and hold some letter keys to access symbols. For example, users can touch and hold the letter C to display © or the letter R to display ®.

Type a capital letter.

Press and hold a letter key. Or, press the Shift key and a letter key.

Touch and hold a letter key.

Type an accented character.

Press and hold a letter key and move a finger to the left or right on the trackpad.

Touch and hold a letter key.

Best practice: Designing applications for different types of keyboards

  • If you alter the functionality of a key, always return the key to its original state when users close the application.
  • Verify that your application is compatible with both full keyboards and reduced keyboards.
  • Support modifier keys where appropriate.
  • Make sure that users can undo commands easily. Typing can be challenging for new users.
  • Choose an appropriate field based on what you expect users to type. For example, if you expect users to type numbers, use a field that accepts only numbers so that users can type numbers easily. Use the following information to determine which input method to choose.

This image provides information on choosing an appropriate field based on what information you expect users to type.

Key functionality

In most cases, an action occurs when users press a key, not when they release a key.

Key

Use

Alt

Type the alternate character on a key on BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard.

Convenience

Open an application or take a picture using the camera application.

BlackBerry devices have a two-stage Convenience key. If you are developing an application, make sure that the application opens when users press the Convenience key all the way down.

End/Power

End a call or press and hold the End/Power key to turn on or turn off BlackBerry devices.

Users can also use the End/Power key for navigation. For example, if users press the End/Power key in an application, the Home screen appears. If users return to the application, the screen that appeared before users left the application appears.

Escape

Users can perform the following actions:

  • Navigate to the previous screen or state. For example, pressing the Escape key dismisses the current screen and displays the previous screen, dismisses a menu or dialog box, or zooms out one level in a picture, map, web page, or attachment.
  • Stop an action or dismiss results. For example, pressing the Escape key stops loading a web page in the browser, stops a search, or dismisses search results.
  • Close an application that has a screen with tabs. Pressing the Escape key does not display the previous tabs.
  • Close the browser and media applications by pressing and holding the Escape key.

On BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard, avoid using the Escape key to allow users to clear the text in a field. Allow users to press the Shift key and the Delete key to clear the text in a field instead.

Lock

Lock the keyboard or lock the screen on BlackBerry devices with a touch screen.

Menu

Users can perform the following actions:

  • Open the menu for a screen in an application.
  • Initiate an action when a menu item is highlighted.
  • Initiate an action when a button is highlighted in a dialog box.
  • Switch applications by pressing and holding the Menu key.

Mute

Mute a call, or pause and mute the sound from an audio or video file.

Send

Users can perform the following actions:

  • Open the phone application.
  • Answer a call.
  • Call a highlighted phone number.

Shift

On BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard, highlight text by pressing the Shift key and moving a finger on the trackpad or touch screen.

Space

On BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard, users can perform the following actions:

  • Type a space.
  • Select a radio button, check box, or drop-down list item.
  • Insert a period (.) when pressed twice in a text field.
  • Insert a period (.) in a web address field or an email address field.
  • Insert an at sign (@) in an email address field.

Users can also use the Space key as a shortcut to move down a screen in an application.

Speakerphone

Turn on or turn off the speakerphone during a call on BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard.

Symbol

Open the symbol list on BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard.

Volume Down

Volume Up

Users can perform the following actions:

  • Decrease or increase the volume.
  • Play the previous or next audio or video file.
  • Zoom in to or out from a subject before taking a picture.
  • Press and hold the Volume Down key to send an incoming call to voice mail when the BlackBerry device is inserted in a holster.

Typing indicators

Typing indicators appear in the upper-right corner of the BlackBerry device screen. Avoid displaying other information in the upper-right corner of the screen because the typing indicators could obscure the information.

Indicator

Description

Alt mode indicator

This indicator indicates that the BlackBerry device is in Alt mode. To enter this mode, users press the Alt key on BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard.

Multi-tap input mode indicator

This indicator indicates that the BlackBerry device is in multi-tap input mode.

Number lock mode indicator

This indicator indicates that the BlackBerry device is in number lock mode. To enter this mode on BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard, users press the Alt key and the Left Shift key. To enter this mode on BlackBerry devices with a virtual keyboard, users press and hold the 123 key until the lock indicator appears on the key.

Shift mode indicator

This indicator indicates that the BlackBerry device is in Shift mode. To enter this mode, users press the Shift key.

Typing input language indicator

This indicator indicates the typing input language.

Shortcut keys

On BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard, shortcut keys provide users with direct access to common actions for a specific screen. For example, users can use shortcut keys to compose an email message or add a bookmark in the browser. Users can also use shortcut keys to access buttons in a dialog box. Some users rely on shortcut keys to perform some tasks without opening the menu and to move around the screen quickly.

Menu items do not have shortcut keys assigned to them. On BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard, after users open the menu, they can press the key that corresponds to the first letter of a menu item to highlight the menu item. To initiate the action associated with a highlighted menu item, users press the Enter key, tap the item, or click the trackpad. If multiple menu items have the same first letter, users can continue pressing the key for the letter until they highlight the menu item that they want.

As you create an application or add features to an application, think about the most common actions for each screen. Add shortcut keys where appropriate.

Best practice: Implementing shortcut keys

  • Assign and document shortcut keys for common actions. For example, on BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard, users can press "T" to move to the top of a list. Users can press "B" to move to the bottom of a list.
  • Use shortcuts keys to increase efficiency for users, but not as a primary means for users to interact with your application. Users should be able to access all available actions from the menu.
  • Localize shortcut keys where possible for the French, Italian, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Czech, and Polish languages. Use English shortcut keys for all other languages.
  • In dialog boxes, assign shortcut keys to all buttons.
  • In wizards, do not assign shortcut keys to buttons.
  • Avoid creating shortcut keys for destructive actions, actions that cannot be undone easily, or actions for which the consequences might be unclear.

Guidelines for choosing shortcut keys

  • For screens, use the first or most memorable character in an action for the shortcut key. For example, in a message list, the shortcut key "R" represents "Reply" and the shortcut key "F" represents "Forward."
  • In dialog boxes, use the first character in the button label as the shortcut key.
  • For similar actions, use the same shortcut keys that are available in other applications . This approach creates consistency for users.
  • Verify that custom shortcut keys do not overlap with existing reserved shortcut keys. For more information about existing shortcut keys, visit http://na.blackberry.com/eng/support/docs/ to see the product documentation.
  • Avoid assigning different actions to well-known shortcut keys.


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