BlackBerry has announced a new virtual assistant called, unsurprisingly, BlackBerry Assistant. Combining learning technology with the capability to carry most actions within Assistant itself, this could end up rivalling Microsoft’s Cortana as one of the coolest virtual assistants out there! We take a look at how BlackBerry Assistant is shaping up so far.
It seems like it’s more or less essential for a modern smartphone to offer a virtual assistant, if it wants to be able to compete with other phones on the market. There’s Cortana for Windows phones, there’s Siri for iOS, and Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the LG G3 often include both Google Now and their own custom virtual assistant.
And thanks to the official BlackBerry blog, we now know that BlackBerry is going to bring its own virtual assistant to the company’s future smartphones.
Of course, if there’s one thing we can say about the smartphone market, it’s that any new virtual assistant that tries to make a name for itself is going to face a lot of stiff competition from the incumbent offerings. The big name is, of course, Siri, but the most promising virtual assistant is Microsoft’s Cortana, which, as we’ve said before, may well be the best virtual assistant out there.
Thus, this new service, called BlackBerry Assistant, will have to bring something new to the table, in order for it to get noticed against such high-powered rivals. So, what does it have going for it? What features might give it an edge in an already cut-throat market?
A super-powered learning computer
By far the best thing about Microsoft’s Cortana is how intelligent she is (her personality is the second thing, as shown by the fact that we can’t help but call her “she”, not “it”). Put simply, when you use the service on your Nokia Lumia 1520 or whatever Windows phone you’re using), Cortana learns about you, so that she can better serve your needs at any given moment.
The exact same thing is true of BlackBerry Assistant. It constantly learns about you, and about how you use the service, so that it can intelligently recognise and carry out your requests. It can set reminders on the fly, compose messages for you to send, and search the web for whatever info you need, and by learning how you speak and type, it can do all that much more effectively.
Never leave the app
The other cool thing about BlackBerry Assistant is that it would appear to be able to actually do all those things without you having to go into another app. That may seem like a small, inconsequential thing, but we can see many ways in which that would be a huge time-saver. Being able to do everything within one app is bound to save time, because no matter how quickly another app can open (and they do seem to open quickly on BlackBerry phones), it will never be as fast or as convenient as not having to go into that other app in the first place.
That also means that BlackBerry Assistant is not eating up your phone’s memory, so that the phone won’t become sluggish, which is a nice little bonus, too!
BlackBerry Assistant will be coming to the BlackBerry Passport, and while there’s no word on whether this will come to other BlackBerry phones, we really rather hope it does; a good virtual assistant might be just the thing BlackBerry needs to stage its big comeback!