Siri, Google Now and Cortana: Say hi to the voice-activated BlackBerry Assistant

BlackBerry(s bbry) may be going down, but not without a fight. Aside from a unique, square-screened handset called the Passport due to launch in September the BlackBerry software is getting a personal assistant app of its own.
The company highlighted its BlackBerry Assistant app, which is part of the forthcoming BlackBerry 10.3 software update, on its blog in a Wednesday post.

“I don’t have a personal assistant… yet. But, I imagine that I would interact with him or her in a number of different ways: typing, speaking…however I would ask them to help, they would help. BlackBerry Assistant can accommodate me the same way. 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. 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.”

At its core, it appears that BlackBerry Assistant is part app-launcher and part information provider similar to Apple’s(s aapl)Siri and Microsoft’s(s msft) Cortana. Missing — at least from the initial description we have — is any contextual aspect that Google Now(s goog) provides: Popping up a message to leave early for your next appointment because it knows there’s traffic, for example.
That doesn’t reduce the potential benefit here, however, particularly for those partial to BlackBerry devices: It helps bring the BlackBerry software to a more modern era where there’s more parity in the feature-set of mobile platforms.