Blackberry’s Little Helper

Blackberry's motif for Assistant isn't too dissimilar fro Apple's Siri.
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G&B guest blogger Matt Padanyi writes that some things in the tech world are almost impossible to predict, but others you can see coming from miles away.

Once again, Blackberry is following in the footsteps of its competitors with not-so-cutting-edge-anymore technology.

The former Canadian darling has unveiled its own virtual assistant to compete with the likes of Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, to be released with the upcoming Passport tablet-phone hybrid (a “phablet” as it’s being called).  The unimaginatively-named Blackberry Assistant operates along the same lines as its counterparts.  It helps you set reminders, make phone calls, send messages, search the web and so on.  A lot of its features seem to be standard fare.

But there are some aspects of Assistant that certainly sound like they could go beyond what the competition is offering.

What’s perhaps most exciting is the fact that Assistant apparently learns and adapts to your requests.  This obviously bares some fleshing out, but it certainly seems like something that could have the potential to impress more than the Siri’s of the world.

Based on Blackberry’s blog posts, Assistant appears to have more functionality with its native apps.  For example, it can turn on the flashlight with a voice command.  I tried this on my iPhone 5, but was rejected by Siri.

Assistant also works with both text and voice commands.  It’s not clear why the text option even exists, but perhaps it’s one way the app can learn from you.  Maybe you’ll ask it to find the nearest shop that sells Meunster cheese, it confuses that for something related to a 1960’s sit-com, you correct it by typing in the request and then it knows you have an affinity for soft American cheese.

You can interact with Assistant by typing, for those times when you just don't feel like talking.

You can interact with Assistant by typing, for those times when you just don’t feel like talking.

Regardless of the functionality of Assistant, it’s very likely Blackberry will have a tough time when it realeases the Passport in September.  All rumours and signs suggest at this point that Apple will roll out its next-generation iPhone around the same time.

 

 

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2 Comments

  • This is a revamped feature that has existed from day 1 on BlackBerry 10. You can type to the assistant, because the device’s ‘universal search’ is integrated in this assistant now. You can type a search string to search for an app, message, contact, file, photo, etc…, or use the “instant action” feature by typing “email matt padanyi” and it will immediately compose an email to matt padanyi all when you start typing from the app grid or home screen. No need to fuss with opening your contacts or email to start an email… just start typing.