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It’s pretty clear now that you can’t have a modern smartphone operating system without powerful Siri-like voice commands. So it’s not too surprising to see familiar-sounding voice commands in the latest update to RIM’s BlackBerry 10 Developer Alpha release.

As N4BB’s Lucas Atkins shows in the video below, the voice command feature sounds a lot like Apple’s iconic virtual assistant. Though it becomes clear pretty quickly that RIM’s solution needs a bit more schooling.

While voice commands have been around for some time now in mobile devices, Apple’s Siri pushed things forward significantly last year when it launched on the iPhone 4S. Siri was smart enough to have basic conversations with you, and it could do much more than just call someone from your contact list. Samsung tried to replicate Siri’s success with S Voice on the Galaxy S III, and Google has shown off its own voice assistant feature for Android Jelly Bean, dubbed Google Now.

The voice command feature is accessed by holding down the pause/play button on N4BB’s BB10 developer unit, and there’s surprisingly no visual interface for it yet. Instead, you hear a robotic voice asking you to “say a command after the beep” (which makes me think of an old answering machine, more than a next-gen OS). After that, you can issue commands to the phone, which are followed up by a Siri-sounding voice.

Atkins asked his BB10 device to search for “BlackBerry,” and it displayed a universal search page with results from the web, the BlackBerry App World, and items on his device. Later attempts to message and call people from his contact list failed, and the voice command system also falls apart hilariously when he asks to cancel the commands.

Given just how much BB10’s virtual assistant resembles Siri, it’s very likely that RIM is also tapping into Nuance’s text-to-speech technology like Apple, Google, and several Android manufacturers.

Image via N4BB


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