On Wednesday, BlackBerry Limited’s social media lead Donny Halliwell revealed that the company is working on its own personal assistant, rivaling Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now and Apple Siri. Cleverly called BlackBerry Assistant, this solution, according to Halliwell, will keep users productive, informed and organized throughout the day. (Tom's Hardware recently compared Cortana, Siri and Google Now here.)
"It is voice activated when I need it to be, and helps manage simple tasks on my device from searching my email and calendar, finding out what's trending on Twitter, to sending trivia night invitations," Halliwell wrote. "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."
BlackBerry Assistant can be used to remind the device owner about an appointment, to look up the lyrics to a song, and turn on the phone's LED in the dark. The Assisstant will also read the user’s latest email aloud, and mark them as read without having to enter the BlackBerry Hub: it’s all hands free. The Assistant will even build a reminder note after the user types in a message starting with "Remind me."
"I don’t like to be interrupted during meetings, but was expecting an important phone call. My assistant stepped in to help out," Halliwell wrote. "I said 'Phone calls only, please' and it changed my notification settings accordingly."
BlackBerry Assistant will be one of the exclusive features on the company’s square-shaped BlackBerry Passport, shown above. This phone is all screen, measuring 4.5-inches square, and provides a compacted QWERTY keyboard underneath. This phone will also ship with BlackBerry 10.3, the company’s latest edition of its smartphone platform.
"Like a real-life personal assistant, the BlackBerry Assistant is in lockstep with what I need to do on my Passport, without being distracting or costly (resource-wise)," Halliwell wrote. "I’m told there are a number of fun Easter eggs built-in as well, which I can’t wait to stumble across."
The BlackBerry Passport will be officially unveiled this September at a launch event in London.