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BlackBerry 10 to offer Siri-like personal voice assistant?

BlackBerry 10 is the upcoming proprietary operating system from Research In Motion for line of their smartphone and handheld devices. The new operating system is based on QNX which was acquired by RIM in April 2010. After BlackBerry World, RIM started distributing BlackBerry10 Dev Alpha prototype handsets to BlackBerry developers.

The prototype is nothing like any of the BlackBerry devices seen before and is intended to boost the ecosystem. BlackBerry10 Dev Alpha boasts a 4.2 inch display offering a resolution of 768 x 1280, 16 gig on board storage and an OMAP processor of unknown speed running the show along with 1 gig of RAM. RIM recently announced a software update for this developer phone to version 10.0.6.361. The update is not over the air (OTA) and requires the phone to be hooked up with a computer running BlackBerry Desktop Manager in order to have the update, however the features are great and it definitely looks like BlackBerry is finally taking BlackBerry 10 OS seriously.

In the latest update, RIM has rejuvenated the OS by adding a voice activated assistant similar to Apple’s Siri, which also hints that parts of the new OS is being built by Nuance, the company behind Siri. Below is a video of BlackBerry’s voice assistant in action on a BlackBerry10 Dev Alpha.

The update also opens up the phone to an all new world of BlackBerry App World Vendor Portal, which should allow developers to have a sneak peek at what others are doing and also test various apps made by them. This should ensure that BlackBerry App World is populated with a decent number of applications by the time BlackBerry 10 devices are launched.

RIM’s ecosystem has always revolved around BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service for purpose of marketing and general consumer interest. Previously, RIM always thought they had enterprise market in their back pocket and this attitude make them think that they didn’t have to catch up with Apple or Android for that matter, but those days are over and seems like RIM has finally realized that they have to bring new features to their devices in order to stay in the game. Apple’s Siri is marvelous, whereas Google’s Android platform has had woven in voice action for quite some time, but with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google has managed to bring voice commands to Android platform. Siri and Android tackle voice commands in their own ways, but Google’s Voice Actions is able to adapt to your voice over time, which is great. Siri on the other hand is smooth and slicker.

BlackBerry’s voice activated assistant can be activated using the volume rocker, and its utility rotates around universal search functionality. It has some voice command prompts to do some stuff like Siri does. It is able to do things like initiate a call or message, but expecting an artificial life like answer from it is wrong. For instance, if you ask Siri “How old are you?, it would answer “I am not allowed to answer that question.”, but on BlackBerry, the assistant will ask you if you want to search the web for “How old are you?”.

As long as it doesn’t infringe the ‘604 so-called Siri patent, which happens to be the heart of the preliminary injunction on the Samsung GALAXY Nexus, this feature will most probably be seen on final version of BlackBerry 10, in fact it may be more advanced in terms of functionality. It’s good that RIM has finally realized that times have changed and they need new features as BBM just wouldn’t fetch enough sales. As of now, while buying a new smartphone device, consumers are only thinking about iOS, Android or sometimes Windows Mobile as their choices. BlackBerry commands certain sectors of business, but it’s losing its position quickly. Even Microsoft is working on voice recognition functionality, and we hope this move by the Canadian manufacturer will be able to recapture the market once it dominated. RIM cannot aim for something short of the competition, and only that will ensure success. Great functional OS with good number of apps is what masses are looking for, and crowds will move to brands which have them in no time. If you do have a BlackBerry10 Dev Alpha, you can try out new cool features for yourself by updating its OS to version 10.0.6.361by heading here.