BlackBerry has just introduced its virtual assistant that aims to offer a service like Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Google Now.
The BlackBerry Assistant, as it's plainly named, comes with the BlackBerry 10.3 operating system. This will be installed on the latest BlackBerry Passport phone.
Like its competition the BlackBerry Assistant is, of course, voice controlled. But BlackBerry is already claiming it's better than what's come before saying: "If you’ve had experience with other smartphone-based personal assistants, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how accurate BlackBerry Assistant is at recognising your requests."
The voice assistant is able to learn from its owner's type of use. Not only will it become better at understanding requests but should be able to adapt to offer the best responses, claims BB. It will allow for control of phone functions as well as access to online information. So from searching email and calendar to seeing Twitter trends and sending messages, it should all be a vocal request away.
The Assistant will work with any Bluetooth device, claims BlackBerry. This should mean using it with a hands-free kit, or connecting it to in-car systems is easy and actually works. It will also read messages out so hearing an email while driving should be straight forward. The user can then mark it as read or ask to be reminded about it later.
It also sounds like search will be simple using typing too. The homescreen will offer a search bar that can be used to search for whatever is needed. It sounds a lot like the Google search bar on Android to us.
Apps can also be controlled from voice commands. Turning on the flashlight app for example is as easy as saying "turn on the flashlight", which could be helpful when searching for the phone in the dark. But more broadly being able to open third-party apps will be a nice extra, although if it works on all apps isn't clear.
Notifications can also be controlled using the assistant. Asking for calls only, when in a meeting say, will disable all other alerts.
The BlackBerry Passport with BlackBerry 10.3 and BlackBerry Assistant is rumoured to launch this September.