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.”
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.
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