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.

Figure 1. Full physical keyboard
This illustration shows the full physical keyboard.
Figure 2. Navigation keys
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.

Figure 3. Full virtual 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.

Figure 4. Reduced virtual keyboard
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.

Related concepts
Next topic: Key functionality

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