Thorsten Heins talked about BlackBerry 10 devices as the only device you’ll need … I’m just working on a mobile business app where BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 will be the only devices: no extra server overhead. I will go into the details in other articles next months. For now imagine following business use-cases from a Service Cars Management solution:
There are Service Car drivers out there at customer site with their BlackBerry 10 devices getting orders pushed.From time to time they’re coming into the office and have to enter some data for reports and so.
There’s also a Dispatcher dispatching the orders to the cars – sometimes he works from the office, sometimes he’s also out at customers, so he has a small desktop inside his car where he wants to use his mobile and not an extra device like a tablet.
I’m a lazy developer and I don’t want to develop an extra desktop app or web-portal – I wanted to re-use the mobile apps. BlackBerry 10 is built on top of the great Realtime-OS QNX, has HDMI connectors and supports Bluetooth. So why not doing all with Z10 or Q10: if coming into the office simply plug the mobile device into a cradle and work with keyboard, mouse and larger screen.
Today I want to talk exactly about this mobile <-> office scenario. (Will talk later in another article about the dispatcher-desktop, push services, signature on touchscreens, NFC and more)
As a developer I have to test it all and so I had to extend my developer desktop by an extra HD-HDMI Monitor, Bluetooth Keyboard, Mouse and a Cradle to plug the Z10 into. I have to test against different devices like Z10 and Q10 (DevAlphaC), so I thought about a HDMI switch where I can connect them. Of course I’m not always testing mobile devices and HDMI and as a developer I cannot have too much screen space, so why not connecting the Monitor also to my MacBookPro ?
You can use any Monitor supporting HDMI – fortunately I could re-use an older monitor from my youngest son now using an iMac. You should select a Monitor supporting Full HD (1920×1080) to get the best quality out of your Z10 or Q10.
HDMI Switch 3 x 1
There are some HDMI switches available – I bought one from deleyCON (via Amazon)
The great thing with this switch: there’s a remote included:
Normaly the last connected device will be displayed on your HDMI Monitor which is ok in most cases, but I’m also presenting sessions at conferences and now I can use this switch with HDMI Beamer and switch easy using the remote between my MacBookPro, Z10, Q10.
This HDMI Switch has one HDMI Output to the Monitor and 3 HDMI input connectors:
I connected my Z10 Cradle (see below), the DevAlphaC (using a normal HDMI — HDMI-Micro cable) and my MacBookPro to the input connectors.
HDMI – USB Dockingstation Z10
As next I was looking for a Z10 Cradle supporting HDMI and USB: most only support USB – but finaly at Amazon I found:
Kidigi Dockingstation for BlackBerry Z10 LCM-BZ10:
I’m using the cradle since some days and it seems to be robust – no problems with HDMI / USB connectors:
And so it looks with your Z10 connected:
Z10 is always in Landscape which makes sense connected to HDMI HD Monitors also in 16:10.
One cool thing: if an app is only in Portrait mode or the Portrait – Homescreen is presented , then the orientation will be automatically switched on your HDMI Monitor, so you see it always in correct orientation without moving your Z10.
Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse
Every Bluetooth keyboard and mouse should work in theory, but I looked for keyboards at Amazon working for Android, iPads or other mobile devices.
Here I ran into a problem: the keyboard was correctly detected as HID (Human Interface Device) and paired. Unfortunately there’s no configuration to tell BlackBerry10 the layout of the keyboard: Mac / PC and QWERTY / QWERTZ / … the keyboards are always used as PC QWERTY. (Will write a feature Request) If you want to conenct a keyboard: please take a QWERTY.
This Bluetooth mouse works, but only limited: mouse movement was detected and also the Click, but I’m not receiving informations about right-click and scroll-wheel in Cascades apps. Curious: inside BlackBerry 10 Settings app I can use the scroll-wheel to scroll the list of options up/down.
I also tried to connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse from Mac: both are connected without problems:
I also tried Apples Touchpad – only movement and clicks detected, no gestures yet. (I’m also writing feature requests)
Docked Z10 with external Keyboard, Mouse and HDMI Switch
Here’s my solution to develop and test applications with support for external keyboards, mouse and 2nd screen:
Developer desktop at ekkes-corner
Curious to see how my desktop now looks like ?
If I don’t need the extra monitor for BlackBerry 10 devices, I’m using the display for my development – per ex. drag the Console Log View from Momentics IDE onto the monitor.
Deploying to Z10 in Cradle is easy via WIFI, so I can develop, deploy and test all different scenarios easy: Z10 plugged in or out, connect/disconnect Bluetooth devices and Z10 vs Q10.
Perhaps you ask: why should I use an external keyboard for my Q10 with physical keyboard ? There are more keys on the external keyboard, so I can use some more shortcuts using F1 … F10, arrow up/down left/rigth and most important: ESC to go BACK. As a mobile device the Q10 is the fastest ever to type, but if you’re in the office and have to enter much data, then an external keyboard can enhance the speed.
Apps with Keyboard support
If you connect an external keyboard or use the physical keyboard from Q10, the support inside the apps differ: not all apps support all default keys yet, but Calendar works great: per ex. d(day), m(month), w(week) are easy to use. On your Q10. Not on Z10 with external keyboard yet. BlackBerry 10 doesn’t use the Q10 shortcuts automatically if external keyboards are connected. (Another feature request 😉 In my own apps I found a solution and am using KeyListeners on touch devices to mimic the shortcuts from BB10 devices with physical keyboard.
There’s also some more work to developers supporting Q10 or external keyboards, per ex. ListViews: on Touch devices you swipe through your list, then tap on a row to select. Using a keyboard it’s much faster to select the rows and then to hit Enter to simulate the TAP. On Q10 by default lists support t(top), b(bottom) and space/shift-space to goto next/previous page, but you still have to tap on a row to select. I enhanced my lists to select rows, so you only need to hit enter and no touch. (Will talk about this for developers and give some tips here.)
HDMI + external Keyboards in Action
Courious to see how this will work in real life applications ? I made three videos:
BlackBerry10: one device on-the-go and in-the-office (1 of 3)
BlackBerry10: one device on-the-go and in-the-office (2 of 3)
BlackBerry10: one device on-the-go and in-the-office (3 of 3)
All of this is only the beginning: 10.2 will give support for USB devices, wireless HDMI (Miracast) and easier 2nd Screen handling: have some ideas to have different content on Z10 vs 2nd screen (HD – HDMI)
So expect some more articles about these topics. Thinking more and more on all of this, Thorsten Heins vision of BlackBerry10 as your only device could become real. What do you think ?