BlackBerry OS update delivers a personal assistant to your phone

Now available for download

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is starting to roll out the BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1 to existing BlackBerry devices. The software is now arriving on the BlackBerry Passport, Z3, Z10, Q10, and Q5 as well as the Porsche Design P'9983 and "9982. With the update, BlackBerry users will get a number of new features including BlackBerry Assistant, BlackBerry Blend and dual app stores.

If you've been jealous of Siri, Cortana or the Google Now digital voice assistants on your friends' phones, BlackBerry is making up for it with BlackBerry Assistant on OS 10.3.1. BlackBerry Assistant can be used with voice or text commands to help users manage emails, contacts, calendars and native BlackBerry 10 applications.

BlackBerry says Assistant is intelligent enough to know how to respond to you. BlackBerry Assistant will respond with voice if spoken to, and it will display the results to your queries if you're typing text. Additionally, if you're accessing BlackBerry Assistant from Bluetooth, it will respond with additional context because you may not have access to your phone's screen.

Balancing work and play

The update brings new ways for users to balance work and play. With OS 10.3.1, BlackBerry users get access to BlackBerry Blend and two application storefronts.

BlackBerry Blend allows you to see the content of your smartphone on other devices. This way, you won't have to juggle between your phone, computer and tablet. If you're at your Mac or PC, you can check your emails and calendar on your phone from your laptop. iPad and Android tablet owners can use their tablet's larger display to see photos captured on their phone's camera.

The update also preinstalls the Amazon Appstore on your phone, making it easier for BlackBerry owners to download and install Android apps. Additionally, native BlackBerry apps could be downloaded from the BlackBerry App World app store.

For those who forget to silence their ringers during meetings and appointments, a new meeting mode works alongside the calendar app to automatically silence the phone during busy times and turn on the ringer once your meeting is finished.

Back to basics

In addition to being known for its keyboard, BlackBerry users also know older BlackBerry come with keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts save time and help make usage easier. If you own a BlackBerry 10 device with a physical keyboard, like the BlackBerry Q10, you'll now have access to quick shortcuts.

When you press the 'T' key in your BlackBerry Hub, you'll be taken to the top of your inbox. Similarly, pressing the 'B' key will get you to the bottom of your messages.

It's a nice way to navigate around your phone without always having to reach for the touchscreen.

Availability

The update starts rolling out today to customers around the world, subject to carrier approval. The software is already available out of the box on the BlackBerry Classic.

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