One thing that has never made any sense in the handheld computer world is maintaining the desktop tradition of blacking out passwords as they are typed. Rarely – if ever – is there a situation where you can’t easily prevent anyone around you from seeing what is on your screen as you type. The only thing password masking does on a small-screen or compact-screen computer is increase the likelihood of errors and retries. But for some reason, every mobile OS maker desperately clings on to this nonsensical standard.
The folks up in Waterloo have nailed this one with the password routines built into Blackberry 10. Examine the screenshot to the far left. This is the default presentation for password entry, with the dreaded bullets masking out the characters in the password. Notice, however, the handy eyeball icon at the far right of the password field. Tap it and voila!
As shown in the image to the near left, the characters are now revealed for easy, accurate, and still secure (since you aren’t going to let a mope hang over your shoulder while you do this) password entry. Done and done.
It’s nice to see that the details of this are properly thought out as well. To wit:
1 – The default is “password masked” … making the standard more secure than necessary is the proper approach.
2 – You can change it with a single tap at the time of entry. No going off to some system settings panel to have to change it.
3 – The default “masked” setting returns at the next password screen, leaving your baseline at “more secure than not” and freeing you from having to remember to change it back.
Whoever was in charge of this bit of the BB10 OS has their head screwed on straight. Elegant, unobtrusive, logical, secure, and intuitive. If I had to make a guess, I would say the QNX crew was responsible for this part from start to finish. The rest of the OS development teams at RIM would do well to study this and learn from it.