BlackBerry CEO takes a shot at Apple's "five year old" iPhone interface

BlackBerry is preparing for the consumer launch of its BlackBerry Z10 smartphone in the US later this week via AT&T, after previously launching the first of its BlackBerry 10 devices in Canada and parts of Europe. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins continues to champion both the smartphone and the company's newest mobile OS and today in a new interview he put his sights on Apple.

In a chat with the Australian Financial Review, Heins said that he respected what Apple has done with its iPhone and its iOS user interface. However, he seemed to suggest that Apple was becoming too slow in terms of innovation since the first iPhone and the first version of iOS launched in 2007. He stated:

History repeats itself again I guess ... the rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don’t innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about is now five years old.

(We would be remiss if we didn't point out that Apple first announced the iPhone in January 2007, and put it on sale in late June 2007, making closer to six years old.)

Heins pointed out that the BlackBerry 10 OS can run multiple apps at once, something that iOS devices can't do. Heins also said that he expects there will be 100,000 apps that will be able to run on the BlackBerry Z10 when it launches in the US on Friday, compared to 70,000 apps that were supported when the phone first went on sale in other parts of the world a few weeks ago.

And what about the company entering the tablet space again? The launch of the BlackBerry Playbook in 2011, before Heins started as CEO, has been viewed as a bomb, both in sales and in reviews. Heins hints it may be a long time before BlackBerry launches a new tablet, saying, "I want it to be really substantial and meaningful, and quite frankly it would need to be profitable as well."

Source: Australian Financial Review | Image via BlackBerry

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While iOS certainly has its issues (it's not particularly great as a tablet OS for one), it is well designed from the ground up considering it hasn't changed much in all these years. Personally I like how it works. I don't need a bunch of widgets and whatnot.

Background apps also work just fine. If you've ever tried running a bunch of music making apps all at once on an iPad, you'd notice they work in tandem quite well. From what I understand iOS suspends apps when they're either not used for a while or when something requires more memory than is available. The battery life improvements are just gravy. The iOS multitasking is also pretty trouble-free, meaning you don't have to be shutting down programs yourself etc.

Where iOS fails right now is integration. Apps don't talk to each other well, there's no way to add new 3rd party features to the system without jailbreaking. The lack of a file system is becoming an annoyance.

But the primary UI still works well, is intuitive and easy to use.

In all fairness, BB still has more smartphone market share than Linux has desktop computer market share, yet people seem to think Torvalds is relevant.

The guy's comments in full were actually pretty humble and forward-looking, but hey, let's not let people talk unless they're the market leader.

Joshie said,
The guy's comments in full were actually pretty humble and forward-looking, but hey, let's not let people talk unless they're the market leader.

Neowin is taking private lessons from Joe Wilcox to learn how to use "crafted" titles and news to increase traffic....

It's not specifically Neowin. Other venues are doing the same twisted presentation of what happened. I'm pretty sure a few places have even thrown around the legendary click-magnet "slams" in a headline.

From what I saw in videos, I think the gestures required to operate BB10 suck overall. Many gestures are not even apparent unless you make a mistake and make them appear. It also looks laggy too. I also think the phone is a bit lame looking. It looks like a stealth phone or something. It looks like its still in design mode and that this isn't really the final design. But I would like to see them improve it. I had one BB once the Storm. I enjoyed using BBM. But it was boring.

RIM and Microsoft seems to think that if you incorporate social media into the OS, it will just sell, or that it is automatically consumer ready. Some you both got it wrong.

While I agree, and have been saying iOS was stale for a long time now, just more desperate trash marketing from desperate companies.

“Apple did a fantastic job in bringing touch devices to market ... They did a fantastic job with the user interface, they are a design icon. There is a reason why they were so successful, and we actually have to admit this and respect that,” Mr Heins said."

Yeah let's just leave this part of the quote out to create controversy. Journalism is dead I guess but anyway he's right.

All the people complaining about Apples IOS interface, the company smiles as they still sell their iPhone like "hot cakes". They may lose a small portion of tech geeks, but the majority of iPhone users, love that the phone "just works". Microsoft and RIM have a lot persuading to do.

JHBrown said,
All the people complaining about Apples IOS interface, the company smiles as they still sell their iPhone like 'hot cakes'.

Yes.. much like where Nokia was at some six years ago They pretty much had the attitude Apple has now and it almost brought them to lose everything. If Apple wants to stay with the frontrunners in this industry they will have to step up big as they are currently only falling further behind not able to even catch up with the latest innovation and technology with their new products.

paulheu said,

Yes.. much like where Nokia was at some six years ago They pretty much had the attitude Apple has now and it almost brought them to lose everything. If Apple wants to stay with the frontrunners in this industry they will have to step up big as they are currently only falling further behind not able to even catch up with the latest innovation and technology with their new products.

It is a common problem: Palm had it, MS as well in spite of being the one becoming the king of the market because of Palm debacle....
It seems that all these very well paid top managers suffer of memory issues.

Why is it that the only way to address the competition these days is to trash talk them? Honestly the tech world behaves like a high school locker-room sometimes.

Sadelwo said,
Why is it that the only way to address the competition these days is to trash talk them? Honestly the tech world behaves like a high school locker-room sometimes.

I guess they're learning a lot from our politicians lol.

As an iPhone, iPad, iMac and Apple TV user I don't feel that iOS looks or feels dated at all but then I don't feel any burning desire to have my phone screen littered with widgets.

However, I have grave concerns about the lack of innovation from Apple of late. I won't be rushing to buy a Samsung Galaxy because, in my opinion, the one thing that Apple does win on - hands-down - is the quality and reliability of apps in their App Store. But I wince when I compare the Galaxy S4 specs and features to the iPhone 5 specs and features. I may not need eye controlled screen scrolling, or to hover my fingers over the screen, etc but it is cool nonetheless and it's the sort of thing that Apple once would have been thinking of. Where is their passion for innovation and cool these days? They seem to have become lazy, barren of ideas, and out of touch with what makes people have that wow moment - even if they may never use what made them go 'wow'.

Edited by TheDogsBed, Mar 18 2013, 8:42pm :

Out of all the people that can run multiple apps at once, how many actually do? On such a tiny screen, it isn't very practical. Switching apps takes 2 seconds on any phone, which I'd imagine is the preferred method.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Out of all the people that can run multiple apps at once, how many actually do? On such a tiny screen, it isn't very practical. Switching apps takes 2 seconds on any phone, which I'd imagine is the preferred method.

I do, and the phone I use now has a 4.5 inch screen. Funny you mention tiny screen, because that's exactly what the iDont's screen is.

Suspending apps and having no background data, for example, is NOT an ideal solution to achieve greater battery life. It's not an engineering feat, it's plain cheating. I'd rather have background data available, letting my apps fetch the data I need and keep it ready for me for whenever I want/need it. I routinely multitask with at least 4-5 apps and when I used to own the iDon't, I hated to first open the apps and then wait for them to refresh, so friggin backward-ass.

Just because you're so darn used to being bound up and caged with the iDon't phone, doesn't mean everybody else is.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Out of all the people that can run multiple apps at once, how many actually do? On such a tiny screen, it isn't very practical. Switching apps takes 2 seconds on any phone, which I'd imagine is the preferred method.

Real multitasking on a modern smartphone is a valid feature request and hopefully Apple's engineers are working on it.

However, the battery draining multitasking on Android is not a solution (if you care at all about battery life), and frankly a multi-window UI on a 4" screen is a dumb idea. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it.

javagreen said,

I do, and the phone I use now has a 4.5 inch screen. Funny you mention tiny screen, because that's exactly what the iDont's screen is.

Suspending apps and having no background data, for example, is NOT an ideal solution to achieve greater battery life. It's not an engineering feat, it's plain cheating. I'd rather have background data available, letting my apps fetch the data I need and keep it ready for me for whenever I want/need it. I routinely multitask with at least 4-5 apps and when I used to own the iDon't, I hated to first open the apps and then wait for them to refresh, so friggin backward-ass.

Just because you're so darn used to being bound up and caged with the iDon't phone, doesn't mean everybody else is.

Is it that difficult for you to have a rational discussion without you spewing some immature innuendos?

a0me said,

Real multitasking on a modern smartphone is a valid feature request and hopefully Apple's engineers are working on it.

However, the battery draining multitasking on Android is not a solution (if you care at all about battery life), and frankly a multi-window UI on a 4" screen is a dumb idea. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it.

Yeah I'd worry about the battery drain too. And maybe even the amount of data it would consume. Even if Apple puts out that rumored 4.8" phone, having a split screen view for 2 apps would still be unpractical. Double tapping the home button to switch between apps seems like a perfectly fine solution to me.

Astra.Xtreme said,

Is it that difficult for you to have a rational discussion without you spewing some immature innuendos?

iDon't understand what your problem is?

The problem with Apple's design scheme for user interfaces is it's flashiness. It's as if they focus more on appearance than function. It's the only platform to use skeuomorphic designs and I don't think people care about that anymore.

They've headed in the right direction with iOS 6 and if that's an indication of what's to come, then iOS 7 will be good too. However, the gesture-based UI of BB10 seems to be better in both appearance and function.

Anyway, Apple needs to move away from skeuomorphism. We don't need excessive visual metaphors or fancy-looking icons. The route Google and Microsoft are taking with their respective mobile operating systems should indicate that simplicity is aesthetically-pleasing. If you don't know what I mean, I'm referring to the holo UI of Android 4.0+ and the general UI of WP7.x/8.

Speak for yourself buddy, I love skeuomorphic design of the iOS icons, that is what makes them both beautiful and distinct from run-of the-mill android and ugly-ass "modern-UI" windows phone, and I hope they don't change that

hal90001 said,
Speak for yourself buddy, I love skeuomorphic design of the iOS icons, that is what makes them both beautiful and distinct from run-of the-mill android and ugly-ass "modern-UI" windows phone, and I hope they don't change that

What's so beautiful about static icons that just have some fancy colors?

What's so fun about having to open every apps just because you want some information instead of just having a widget that gives you all of the info you need directly?

Those who like the icon mess in iOS must also likes this: http://media.moddb.com/images/..._Tuesday_5_January_2010.jpg

Now, let me show you the awesome things with the widgets i use.

Here is my first launcherpage.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/73097...ens/2013-03-19-00-23-58.png

Here you can see the Google Search bar on the top that takes me directly to Google Search if i press on the Google name. If i press on the microphone, then i get to Google Now instead.

Now to the Sense 5 Clock & Weather widget. If you press the clock there, then you can get the widget to open whatever app you want. In my case, i have it to open the Jelly Bean Clock app witch gives me the normal clock, alarms, stopwatch and countdown timer.

If i press on the date under the clock, then i get to the widget settings. If i press on the weather icon, then i have the widget to open the BeWeather Pro app witch will automaticly update the weather if i'm connected to 3G or Wi-fi. I also have the widget to automaticly update the weather icon on the widget every 12 hours.

And at the bottom i have the Engadget widget app witch gives me the 10 latest news. It just slides between the latest news every 10 seconds.

Now to launcherpage 2.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/73097...ens/2013-03-19-00-24-16.png

Here you simply have my most used apps.

And at the right bottom, i have a 1x1 Sticky Note widget.

And here is launcherpage number 3.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/73097...ens/2013-03-19-00-24-30.png

This is just a 5x5 PowerAMP Music Player widget where i can switch to the next and earlier tracks. I can also turn on and off the Shuffle and Repeat on the widget to. And if i want to go into the app it self, then i just press on the cover photo.

Here is launcherpage 4.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/73097...ens/2013-03-19-00-24-48.png

This is the FriendCaster Pro widget witch is my Facebook app. The widget will get updated with Puch C2DM or with periodic polling. So i can choose whatever i want here. And yes, i can scroll the facebook news down on the widget to, so no need to enter the app it self to see the new updates on Facebook.

And then to my last launcherpage witch is page number 5.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/73097...ens/2013-03-19-00-25-11.png

Here you can see my E-Mail widget that shows the latest e-mail from my Hotmail and Google Mail. That's why it say 'Kombinert innboks (combined inbox in english). Here i can choose to update the e-mail widget every 1, 3, 6, 12 or 24th hour. So no need to enter the e-mail app to see you newest e-mails.

The next widget is an app called Aura. It's an app for the game 'EVE Online' that i'm playing. It simply just shows my character name, witch skill i'm training and when the training will be done. If i want more info and tools, then i just press the widget and i will enter the app it self.

The last widget shows how many call minutes, SMS, Data (3G) i have left and how much data on the Wi-Fi network i have used. But it seems to be bugged since it's not updating the data and the Wi-Fi usage.

So mister iOS fan. Tell me how awesome your ugly mess with static icons with some fancy colors placed all over your screen are compared to how my Galaxy Note are setup?

Edited by Exynos, Mar 18 2013, 11:10pm :

hal90001 said,
Speak for yourself buddy, I love skeuomorphic design of the iOS icons, that is what makes them both beautiful and distinct from run-of the-mill android and ugly-ass "modern-UI" windows phone, and I hope they don't change that
High-quality icons aren't as bad as unnecessary UI elements (e.g. real-world objects in an app). Take a look at the podcast app for iOS. It has an animated tape deck that "plays back" a podcast. Do people really need a dose of nostalgia when using a podcast app? Think about that question. Tapes are an analog source so it has no place on a touchscreen device playing back a digital audio file. The reason it sells is because the less tech-savvy people find it visually pleasing whereas most tech-savvy people either don't care about it or hate it. Personally, I find it silly that a designer thought it would be a good idea... but then I remembered they most likely designed it to "stand out" and therefore sell.

Anaron said,
The problem with Apple's design scheme for user interfaces is it's flashiness. It's as if they focus more on appearance than function. It's the only platform to use skeuomorphic designs and I don't think people care about that anymore.

I'm sorry, but your statement about Apple's platform being the only one that uses skeuomorphic design is just untrue.

If anything, Apple's UI is over the top with it.

- Just about every camera phone makes the sound of a shutter closing when taking a photo even though there isn't an actual, mechanical shutter in it.
- In Google Play Books, swiping to the next page simulates turning a page like in a real book.
- See Touchwiz

omgben said,

I'm sorry, but your statement about Apple's platform being the only one that uses skeuomorphic design is just untrue.

If anything, Apple's UI is over the top with it.

- Just about every camera phone makes the sound of a shutter closing when taking a photo even though there isn't an actual, mechanical shutter in it.
- In Google Play Books, swiping to the next page simulates turning a page like in a real book.
- See Touchwiz

You're right. I'm not a fan of skeuomorphic design but I can make an exception for cameras and e-book readers. What Samsung and HTC have done in the past, and continue to do so, with their front-end touch interfaces is an attempt to jump on the skeuomorphic bandwagon. It kinda looks like they're straying away from it (e.g. HTC's Sense 5) which is a good thing. Google's UI guidelines for Android 4.0+ make very little room for skueomorphism.

Fus10n said,
I love my iPhone.. but.. It IS dated

Reason why I went to an 8X and skipped the 5... iOS UI and its elements are getting long in the tooth IMO... They need to get back to the drawing board. I honestly find MS tiles so much more informative than just 64x64 pretty looking icons; they do lack the crisp and fresh design language most developers put into their iOS apps though, that solid color crap is also a bit Win95 lol

Jazket said,

Reason why I went to an 8X and skipped the 5... iOS UI and its elements are getting long in the tooth IMO... They need to get back to the drawing board. I honestly find MS tiles so much more informative than just 64x64 pretty looking icons; they do lack the crisp and fresh design language most developers put into their iOS apps though, that solid color crap is also a bit Win95 lol


The iOS UI was created for a screen with a 320 × 480 resolution and only a couple of icons on the homescreen.
Today the iPhone 5's screen has 5 times the resolution, the average iOS users has over 100 apps on their device and the iPhone has a lot more features than it had 6 years ago which makes the UI feel all the more limited.

I've noticed Ubuntu Mobile, Firefox Mobile OS, and BB10 are relaying on "gestures" to navigate trying to reduce icons to varying degrees.

Edited by Jason Stillion, Mar 18 2013, 8:54pm :

And he'… right! iOS feels very dated by today's standard (Jelly Bean and WP8)

And many basic features are missing from iOS 6. I had to switch from an iPhone 4S to a GSIII to realize that.

One of the most annoying thing on iOS in my opinion: Being forced to use the "Settings" panel and navigate through many parameters to accomplish very basic tasks like turning On/Off Wifi, changing luminosity, turning On/Off thetering, etc.

No automatic apps update. Stuck with the stock keyboard when there's Swiftkey and its incredible prediction engine. No widgets, etc.

I had to switch to Android from iOS to realize I don't like Android still. Maybe it was the phone I used which was the Note, but I just didn't like how fast my battery died, or when I go set an alarm I need to select the days I want it to go off. I'm just so far into Apple's little ecosystem where iMessage comes in handy (because everyone I know has an iPhone), Photostream, iCloud. If iOS had Swiftkey, then I'd be happy.

But for those that made the change from iOS to Android or vice-versa, congratulations because I couldn't do it.

Do I think iOS is outdated? It's hard to tell, I'm not a hardcore phone user. I jailbreak and customize how I want my iPhone. I rarely play games, take photo's, etc. I'm just use to how it is now.

Also, I thought alot of the apps I use on iOS are more up-to-date than the ones I used on Android. I wasn't pleased with the Nike GPS app, nor the fact Nike doesn't have a Fuelband app for Android.

I will say, I kept my iPhone 4S because I felt Apple lacked in giving me a reason to update to the iPhone 5. I only hope iPhone 5S has something worthy for me wanting to upgrade. Fingerprint sensor? I'll pass.

As for the BB10 phone, I think it looks really good. I wouldn't mind trying it out, but I do know I wouldn't switch to it for a personal phone. I use a BB for work which they provide.

Dinggus said,
or when I go set an alarm I need to select the days I want it to go off.

That's an optional feature. If you deselect all the days then it will go off whenever it reaches the specified time.

Dinggus said,
or when I go set an alarm I need to select the days I want it to go off.

LOL. I think you're better off on iOS...

Dinggus said,
I use a BB for work which they provide.

That's the problem, how many companies will be buying their staff new phones just because a new model has come out, very few.

theyarecomingforyou said,

That's an optional feature. If you deselect all the days then it will go off whenever it reaches the specified time.

Alright, thanks didn't know that.

technikal said,

LOL. I think you're better off on iOS...

Why? At least I went to using Android open minded.

"Article"

History repeats itself again I guess ... the rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don't innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about is now five years old.

How can I forget when RIM bragged about Black Berry's much bigger Market Share than the iPhone when the latter one launched.

How about we wait and see how people receives BB10 before bragging and trashing yourself again before history repeats itself again

Jose_49 said,

How can I forget when RIM bragged about Black Berry's much bigger Market Share than the iPhone when the latter one launched.

How about we wait and see how people receives BB10 before bragging and trashing yourself again before history repeats itself again

History indeed repeats itself:
Do you remember Ballmer laughing about the iPhone as well? And WM was running above 40% market share at the time .

Fritzly said,

History indeed repeats itself:
Do you remember Ballmer laughing about the iPhone as well? And WM was running above 40% market share at the time .


Not fair, there where just 10 smartphones in the entire world.