updated 12:16 pm EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
BlackBerry Assistant competes with Siri, Google Now, Cortana
BlackBerry will include its own virtual assistant in a future version of the company's mobile operating system, the smartphone manufacturer has revealed. Taking its cue from Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, BlackBerry Assistant will recognize commands via voice recognition and entered text, and will be able to perform simple tasks such as searching e-mail archives or setting appointments, to more elaborate requests.
A blog post explains the BlackBerry Assistant can perform a large number of tasks without pushing the user over to the relevant app to complete a request. Reminder notes can be written and e-mails read aloud from within the app, while a request to turn on the flashlight spawns a power button for the function in the middle of the display. Requests to set the device to "Phone calls only, please" turned off all notifications on the device except those for incoming calls.
It is claimed the service will excel at voice recognition, with the company blog post boasting "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 recognizing your requests. The company also boasts the Assistant is designed to be able to receive commands via any Bluetooth device, though it remains to be seen if the claimed accuracy will hold up when used in a vehicle.
BlackBerry Assistant will initially make an appearance on the BlackBerry Passport, which uses BlackBerry OS 10.3. The Passport is believed to be shipping sometime in the fall, with BlackBerry OS 10.3 and BlackBerry Assistant likely to be released at the same time.