BlackBerry has its own Siri: New Passport phone will have an ‘Assistant’ app

Read our full BlackBerry Passport review.

BlackBerry is trying to drum up some enthusiasm for its upcoming mammoth, square QWERTY phablet, the Passport. Now that the company has explained exactly why it’s hip to be square and QWERTY, it’s moving on to bigger and better announcements. The Passport will be the first BlackBerry smartphone to have BlackBerry Assistant, a voice-controlled virtual assistant like all others before her.

BlackBerry Assistant may not have a snazzy name like Siri or Cortana, but much like Google Now’s virtual helper, BlackBerry’s voice app exists to help you get things done. Users can either speak or type to issue commands, send requests, or ask questions of BlackBerry Assistant. In a blog post, an avid BlackBerry user describes what it’s like to have a virtual assistant.

“While it might not be able to bring your morning cup o’ Joe,” the post reads. “The BlackBerry Assistant will keep you organized, informed, and productive.”

blackberry assistant-main-use

Based on the screenshot that follows this statement, it seems that BlackBerry has added email, BBM, messages, shopping, and weather to the main screen where users can access BlackBerry Assistant. Just like any other virtual assistant, BlackBerry’s will let you set reminders, check your calendar, dictate messages, compose tweets, perform searches, and other standard tasks. It can even read your emails to you, which could be handy while driving. BlackBerry’s assistant also learns your habits and patterns to better serve you.

BlackBerry has yet to release audio, so we don’t know if the assistant has a personality or specific gender (wouldn’t it be funny if it were a male voice?). It’s unclear exactly what BlackBerry’s assistant can do that all the others can’t do equally well if not better. Still, it’s good to see BlackBerry catching up with the other mobile operating systems in terms of cool features.

It looks as though BlackBerry Assistant will be available with BlackBerry OS 10.3, which will arrive on the Passport. Hopefully that means older BlackBerry phones will get the virtual assistant’s help, too.

Mobile

Why Honor’s new screen is the hole-y grail in quest to ditch the notch

Honor will release a smartphone with an in-screen camera in the new year, a trend which is gathering momentum in the industry. Honor said it has cracked the formula, and explains what's special about its All-View Display.
Mobile

How to use Samsung’s Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.
Mobile

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.
Mobile

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.
Home Theater

These top-line smart speakers conduct the most sophisticated symphony: Your life

Stuck talking to yourself? Get an A.I. assistant to keep you company! Whether you put your stock in Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, we've picked out the best smart speaker for any smart home ecosystem.
Smart Home

These activists are hacking housing problems in NYC using apps and data

There are 1.2 million people living in "deficient" housing in New York City and now these coders are making easy-to-use, intuitive apps designed to give tenants a fighting chance against unscrupulous landlords.
Mobile

Google Assistant will alert you if it thinks your flight will be delayed

Google Assistant will soon be able to alert you if your flight is delayed. Using historical flight status data and machine learning, the service can even predict a flight delay before it's been officially confirmed.
Mobile

Forget 3 being a crowd, 4 is the magic number on the Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei's sequel to the P20 Pro, the P30 Pro, has already started to leak ahead of its 2019 announcement and release. The company is likely to improve even further on the P20 Pro's excellent camera.
Deals

Here are 19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth…
Mobile

Declutter your life with our favorite wireless chargers for Android and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.
Mobile

Microsoft patent filing shows wearable that mitigates involuntary movements

A patent application from Microsoft has shown the company is looking into using wearable technology to alleviate symptoms from various diseases and disorders that cause involuntary movements.
Mobile

AT&T makes 5G a reality for a dozen U.S. cities, with more to come in 2019

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Product Review

With sapphire glass and analog dials, you'd never know this watch is smart

The world of hybrid smartwatches is getting much larger, and the latest comes from a name with history — New York Standard Watches. In our NYSW GTS Activity Tracker review, we find out what makes this watch special, and why we were so…