BlackBerry Gets Its Own Siri With BlackBerry Assistant

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BlackBerry is trying to build up some steam for its upcoming BlackBerry OS 10.3 launch, and for its new BlackBerry Passport hardware, and today that means a new feature reveal: The company detailed BlackBerry Assistant on its official blog today, and the feature looks unsurprisingly like Siri and Cortana for iOS and Windows Phone respectively.

The Assistant features the now-omnipresent “microphone in a circle” icon to tell you where to press to get it to start working, and it offers up helpful shortcuts for certain actions, like sending a BBM, a text, an email or checking the weather (using iconography that looks an awful lot like Windows Phone’s grid-based design, by the way). It learns as you use it, according to the blog post, and it can be called up by voice just like Google Now on the latest version of Android, plus it works out of the both with Bluetooth voice input devices.

The Assistant looks to have some special powers aimed at enterprise and BlackBerry users specifically, like the ability to mark messages in the BlackBerry Hub unread or to alter notification settings. In short, it sounds like it should offer near-total control over your device’s functions, though there’s no real detail yet on how it’ll work with third-party apps.

Is a digital personal assistant enough to right the good ship BlackBerry? Probably not, and the timing of this announcement might be designed to throw a little light on the shadow cast over BlackBerry by the announcement of the new, cozy partnership between IBM and Apple – but progress is progress, and BlackBerry Assistant has some promise based on this admittedly filtered first look.