BlackBerry 10.3 release to feature Siri-like voice assistant

BlackBerry has announced details about the voice assistant feature it's planning to introduce through the release of its BlackBerry 10.3 operating system.

The next version of the BlackBerry OS is due to make its debut on the firm's innovativePassport device, and will feature a reworked user interface, messaging capabilities and productivity features.

Users of the software can operate the BlackBerry Assistant using voice or typed commands, and it's designed to adapt the way it responds to people the more they use it.

In a blog post, announcing its arrival, the company said the assistant will be able to help users out with a range of tasks from searching through emails, to managing social networks and sending out invites to people.

You'll be pleasantly surprised at how accurate BlackBerry Assistant is.

"The more I speak with it, the more tuned-in to my queries it gets," wrote Donny Halliwell, the editor of the firm's Inside BlackBerry blog.

He also used the post to take a swipe at the firm's rivals, Microsoft and Apple, who have both rolled out voice assistants for users of their respective mobile operating systems.

"If you've had experience with other smartphone-based personal assistants, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how accurate BlackBerry Assistant is at recognising your requests."

Through the use of Bluetooth connectivity, users can also sync the device to their cars so they can carry out tasks on their smartphone without taking their eyes off the road, added Halliwell.

One of the standout features of the software, he claims, is that it carries out its tasks without leaving the Assistant app, and there are also a number of Easter Eggs built into it for people to uncover as they use it.

"We briefly lost power [at our house] and I needed to find my way around the house in the dark. I asked the BlackBerry Assistant to Turn on the flashlight'," he explained.

"The flashlight app turned on and the screen, within the app, a switch to turn it off appeared."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.