Since past few month BlackBerry (BBRY) has been discussing a lot about its latest and probably the its best ever handset till date, the BlackBerry Passport. John Chen has worked very hard to figure out what his customers actually want and has added back many of the BlackBerry signature features that were dropped along the path.
But the Passport will not just sport successful BB features, it will also come with the art-of-the-age features and BlackBerry Assistant is just one of them. BlackBerry recently announced the app on its official blog page and industry experts and analysts now have their eyes set on this. Here’s what you need to know about the app and how this might shape things for BlackBerry.
What BlackBerry Has To Offer
BlackBerry Assistant is a voice enabled personal assistant software similar to Apple (AAPL) Siri, Microsoft (MSFT) Cortana, and Google (GOOG) Now. Similar to the fellow offerings, BlackBerry Assistant will be able to take instructions from its user and carry them out. The app will provide an interactive experience which most of us can clearly imagine.
The app will be available on BlackBerry 10.3 powered handset and any older handset that will get upgraded to the OS version. The three main features of the app according to the Canadian phone giant are – its ability to adapt, it’s Bluetooth compatible, and its ease of use. According to BlackBerry Blogs Editor Donny Halliwell, the app learns about the user with time. The more the app is used, the better is the level of adaptation based on the interactions.
BlackBerry Passport showing off BlackBerry Assistant, Source: Gizmodo
Next, BB Assistant can be accessed even without using hands, through Bluetooth compatibility. This way the user can keep doing what he is doing, such as driving, eating, etc., and at the same time use the app to make requests. This is a feature which is still not available on Siri and Google Now.
Finally, coming to ease of use, the app can be used directly from the home screen and the user doesn’t need to open the app separately. The user can also type in information in the app using the physical keyboard, making it extremely easy to access BB Assistant. Furthermore, the app can perform multiple requests even without leaving the app. According to Donny, some of the most interesting features are where the user can ask BB Assistant to read e-mails, mark them as read or unread, turn on or turn off the flashlight.
How Things Are Shaping Up For BlackBerry
John Chen is trying to shift BlackBerry’s focus from being a hardware company to becoming a software company. He believes BlackBerry’s competency lies in the field of software security and that should be developed. However, this doesn’t mean he has given up on the handset business. He still believes in it and wants to fix it and then continue catering to the enterprise customers, instead of competing against the likes of Apple in the consumer electronics space.
According to data provided by IDC, BlackBerry’s market share of the smartphone space has been reduced to 0.8% only and this is expected to fall further to 0.3% by 2018. However John is hopeful about the company’s prospects. He believes that Passport will be a turning point for the handset unit and things will gradually improve. In this juncture, releasing BlackBerry Assistant was a thoughtful step. If the company wants buyers for its gadgets, it will have to listen to what the customers need.
Apple launched Siri with iOS 6 and then Google improved upon that. But now the game has changed a lot after Microsoft developed Cortana. I personally feel Cortana is generations ahead of the current versions of Siri and Google Now. However, Apple is about to launch iOS8 and it’s expected that the company will announce an updated Siri also. Even BB Assistant seems to be up to the challenge. The company has spent huge amount and massive hours in developing the feature and it might turn out to be the trump card for the distressed company. If BlackBerry is able to connect to its customers through the new Passport handset, it will surely get a huge boost.
Launching BlackBerry Assistant is just the beginning of the several changes that the company is about to undergo. John is carefully laying down the foundation for a stronger BlackBerry. He expects to bring back the company to profitability by 2016 and BlackBerry Assistant along with BlackBerry Passport is going to play a crucial role in this.