Blackberry plans to launch their new Passport smartphone in September, which will also mark another unveiling for the company. They will be releasing their first virtual assistant, appropriately named Blackberry Assistant with the new 10.3 operating system. Phones which upgrade to the 10.3 operating system may be able to have Blackberry Assistant as well, a privilege not given to iOS customers with the release of Siri back on their iOS 6 platform.
Essentially, Blackberry Assistant will function like the other virtual assistants available in the market today. You can present queries to the device with your voice or through text, and it will be Bluetooth compatible to promote safe driving habits. But the virtual assistant will have a few more capabilities than Siri or Google Now. Blackberry Assistant will be able to open specific applications through voice command, such as e-mail, and then perform functions in the application, like read an e-mail and then mark it as read. But there will be no need for the user to enter the application in order to do this, it can all be done through the assistant. Without fumbling on the home screen, users will be able to ask their virtual assistant to turn on the flashlight, and then turn it off again when finished.
Blackberry also claims that it’s assistant has the capability to adapt to the user. As Donny Halliwell, who is the head of Blackberry’s social media marketing describes “the more I use it, the more it learns and adapts to me. The more I speak with it, the more tuned-in to my queries it gets.” Halliwell also remarked on the accuracy of Blackberry Assistant, saying that if users are familiar with other virtual assistants available they might be surprised by how accurately it understands queries.
Although it is unclear wither Blackberry Assistant will have a personality as enthralling as Siri’s, it will sound more robotic like the voice of Google Now.
The Passport will be Blackberry’s new flagship offer, and its chance to make Blackberry a real competitor in the smartphone race. Recently, the company has fallen behind, and finding ways to surpass what is offered by Microsoft, Google, and Apple, instead of matching pace, Blackberry will make itself relevant again. It is projected that by 2018 Blackberry will only hold 0.3% of the smartphone market share (in comparison with the 0.8% they have now) but CEO John Chen’s plans should get them to breakeven cash flow by the end of the fiscal year, and profitable by 2016.
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