RIM quietly adds Siri like functionality in latest BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha update

By Bla1ze on 20 Jul 2012 07:46 pm EDT
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The latest update for the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha been delivered to developers and now that folks have gone through it quite a bit, a few things are coming to light. Sure, RIM added a bunch of stuff for developers directly such as new API access; BlackBerry App World functionality but they also quietly added some Siri like functionality.

We asked not long ago if folks thought RIM should add a function like Siri or S-Voice to the mix and most people said it wasn't important at all but if the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha update is any indication then RIM might very well be working on it.

Of course, RIM has always had voice control services built into BlackBerry smartphones but realistically, they never put much effort into it. Check out the video above to see it all in action and let us know in the comments if you think RIM should even bother with trying to pull this off as an addition to BlackBerry 10. Thanks, Innovatology!

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RIM quietly adds Siri like functionality in latest BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha update

96 Comments

Siri, by all technical terms is RIM's original voice command app as both were at one point fully controlled by Nuance. RIM never made full use of it and well, the rest is history as Apple scooped Siri and it's Nuance agreements up.

Very interesting.

So RIM licensed this from Nuance a while back, they included it originally in their voice command app? And now Apple uses Nuance technology in Siri? I want to know more about this!

The story is very convoluted and there is questionable facts but ya, so the story goes. I realize it's not the most reputable linkage but there is more info here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuance_Communications

Umm not to go off topic but why cant non admin types post links that actually clickable?? Is that like a rule?

@Bla1ze, both Apple and RIM licensed Nuance technology. However, Apple is starting to cut Nuance out and develop fully in-house voice recognition technology. So you are correct in your assessment. RIM is playing catch-up but I think they've made tremendous progress in this area. It does happen to seem extremely SIRI-like and I hope RIM does something about that to avoid possibly butting heads with Apple.

So what really happened here is that Apple licensed Nuance technology and developed it into their own voice recognition search and answer functionality within their operating system. RIM also licensed Nuance's technology, but didn't do what Apple did! But now, they are doing that (and hopefully more)........

RIM should NOT sleep on this.. As the tech world evolves they cannot afford to leave any stone unturned with BB10. Bring on Q-Voice or Q-Tips or Blackberry IQ (QNX personal assistant name suggestions? lol)

Not sure.. "take a picture" doesn't work and the music app isn't loaded, so I dunno... I'll load the music BAR tonight and try it out.

i would love the picture feature if it was more responsive and responded to "Oh snap" or something like that...

"Take a pic(ture)" along with the apparent think time would be a disaster...

Lovin RIM and hoping for the best!

The "speech read", "interpret", "think", "execute" time will depend on the software and processing power of the device.
I hope RIM will add a graphic or animation (not resource hungry of course) to indicate the device is actually doing something instead of staring at an unchanging screen, waiting for something to give.
It's early days but it certainly seems better than the current voice command app we have on BBOS.

RIM would never have a Voice command that says Jokes like Siri... That's for Kids... RIM is about business not jokes. Besides by now i'm sure Siri is old and no one uses it anymore it was jus a fun function to show off at the time

Voice is nice for guidance... I'll concede that...
Love they use the same voice over though... Effing hilarious IMO

I know, I wish they would use whatever voice they are using for BlackBerry Traffic. It's one of the best ones out there!

Check yourself. RIM being just about business got them in a pretty crappy position. It's long past time to make this brand about fun.

Like the video but I hope RIM does away with the “say a command after the beep” hope to see more videos on this

I have a hunch here. I'm betting that RIM is either still working on the front end for the voice commands or is otherwise keeping it secret until closer to launch date in order for this to add to the ending surprise. I also think the initial "say a command after the beep" voice is only temporary and will disappear once the screen visuals are shown. I bet RIM through in that extra guy's voice just for the developers to use the voice recognition APIs sooner.

After past mistakes, I am 100% percent confident that if there is no patent against just having a tone that prompts for voice input... They should be alright...

But yes, that is something that needs to be removed even prior to Beta...
It is Alpha now...

Apple has had voice recognition in MacOS for a very long time. They were among the first. Siri has little to do with speech recognition; it has to do with language recognition. Good luck with that.

It's actually a valid point, not trolling. The speech recognition for both Apple and RIM is just licensed from Nuance, it's not groundbreaking. The natural language processing is what Siri (the company that was acquired by Apple) developed, and that's something RIM can't just license. In playing with my Dev Alpha the voice commands are impressive, but they don't (yet!) have the natural language features Siri does.

Nuance is powering Siri. But Apple clearly struck a deal with Nuance which precludes them from talking about it. This is Apple technology, this is not about Nuance, is how I imagine Apple may put it. Apparently, Nuance is happy enough with Apple’s undoubtedly large check for this licensing agreement that they are willing to keep quiet. SIRI was and is using nuance

Yes, Siri uses Nuance for the speech recognition, but that's it. Nuance's software translates spoken words into text that can be processed. The actually processing of that text is done by Apple/Siri, and Nuance has nothing to do with that.

Here's how to think of it: Imagine you're talking to a person who speaks a different language and using a translator. Nuance is the translator. RIM can hire the same translator as Apple (Nuance) but that doesn't mean you're speaking to the same person. The technology Siri (the company) developed is the "person" you're speaking too. RIM has to build their own "person" to speak to.

So yes, Nuance powers Siri, but not in the way most people think. When you ask Siri "Is it going to rain tomorrow?" Nuance can't answer that, it can just translate it into a form the Siri processing software can use.

Siri ducks, hate the birch and the one that yells at you the word she picked out and if you don't x it out she puts it in any...typing on the PlayBook is way better...voice commands is the future I hope BB10 does a better job.

I like it and will definitely use it. I remember using voice to call people while driving, very easy and effective.

[Deadly duo - Playbook/Bold]

If you want to be able to use your phone with your car - as time goes on and strong laws are enacted keeping your phone out of your hand - you are going to need strong voice recognition software to guide the hardware while you "keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road". I still believe it's going to be an important part of where things are going - and I noted with interest that Scott Forrestal said they wanted to integrate Siri into the car.

Its fun as we watch the bits and pieces come out in the dev releases and start to imagine how RIM will use them, and where devs can take them!

Wow, dude. Really. That's your contribution? Profile much? You need to get out more and explore different cultures. Did you know there are English speaking Asians born in the US and elsewhere? Yeah. They exist. Smh

Yes. RIM will finally play with the big boys. However if apple becomes sue happy like they just did with android. Can this mean more delays for BB10 release cause of court injunction. Heres hoping not.

Voice commands have been around since before Apple went into the phone business. It'll be pretty hard for them to sue any other business over it.

Yes but somehow thats not stopping apple from suing is it. I knew Rim should of bought out nuance years ago lol. Hopfully rim can pull it off and escape a lawsuit.

I think RIM should definitely go for this and then branch out more in the automotive industry. They really have to do this so the real question is: If Apple has Siri, than what will RIM call its voice technology? Will they choose not to name it and just let the software do the talking? Probably a good idea.

Google just added improved voice integration to the search in the newest version Jelly Bean. They didn't give it a name it's part of "Google Now" but even the universal search uses the technology. Watch some of the videos online seems to be much better than Siri in plain language searches. I think just important to make the software rock.

If you called an apple a different name would it matter? I think it'd still be an apple. The name won't matter. It just has to work well. On another note. Of all the people I know who have the iPhone, I've seen one person use Siri... And it didn't work well.

I do want this, but I want something more of a personal assistant type. Not fun and games.

Voice is important.

Siri's been out for a while. RIM could improve on Siri's faults and make it better.

I don't like how everyone is call this "SIRI like". SIRI is different from what is shown off here.
I think this is more an evolution of the Voice Dialing app BlackBerry already has.

When the Woz says Apple ruined SIRI, you want to avoid what SIRI has become from what it was with SRI. RIM needs to look at S-Voice and exceed it, not SIRI.

I think Google's new voice integration for Jelly Bean already raised the bar past SIRI and is better than S Voice as it currently stands. It makes sense Google has been improving plain language search on our desktop for years now.

Great thing about the talk about Siri, S Voice, Nuance, etc, etc is that all this competetition is great for the consumer. All of these entities will strive to be the best, which will benefit us all. Of course, RIM will resurge and dominate once again. It seems like they're putting everything and then some into BB10. You've gotta love where things are headed.

Not trying to be an ass here...but all i'm seeing so far year old or more technology other devices have already available. Siri like? it's going to be out more than a year and a half already. Seems that all RIM is doing, and has been doing, is playing "catchup" Not "This is new, never been on any other smartphone devices". Again, the old adage, "Lead, Follow or get the hell out of the way" Just hope this is not the old case of "Well, BlackBerry OS10 doesn't have this or doesn't have that, but I'll still buy a sup-par device that will not be on the same levle as iphone or HTC or Samsung..hell, for that matter, Nokia.

There have been numerous press releases and statements from RIM execs that have indicated a whole host of functions BB10 will have that other mobile devices will not be able to do. That is not playing catch up. It's a platform that will once again change the way people communicate and use their hand held devices; from cars to NFC and a range of other things. Come back to CB more often if you really think RIM is only playing catch up.

Seems you either didn't read what I wrote or you simply didn't understand. Either way I can't explain it to you if you don't want to listen. Peace.

+1

Being the first of its kind, I therefore wouldn't exactly call a platform built with QNX "playing catch up".

Not trying to be an ass here...but all i'm seeing so far year old or more technology other devices have already available. Siri like? it's going to be out more than a year and a half already. Seems that all RIM is doing, and has been doing, is playing "catchup" Not "This is new, never been on any other smartphone devices". Again, the old adage, "Lead, Follow or get the hell out of the way" Just hope this is not the old case of "Well, BlackBerry OS10 doesn't have this or doesn't have that, but I'll still buy a sup-par device that will not be on the same levle as iphone or HTC or Samsung..hell, for that matter, Nokia.

I actually work with a Jeopardy champion who got to play against watson in the trial stages before the TV event. The things he told me about it are amazing

My wife has an Iphone, and here's her take on SIRI: It's like Communism, great on Paper, but not practical.
I remember when she first got the Iphone and tried out Siri. Half of the time it didn't respond and the other time she wanted to use it, it was too loud to receive the message or she was in an inappropriate place (ie. restaurant) .
RIM, dont waste your time on it.

+1, Siri at present is a concept and not practical. My experience with it centers on screaming for 2-3 minutes trying to get it to do a task that could overwise be done in a few seconds (typing). No need to waste too much time here.

It's killing me too... and seeing all kind of new apps and features that would came out along with BB10 kills me more!!! :(

+1. I've had to wipe my device six times in the past week due to upgraded apps that render my Torch useless. Not even DeskTop Manager re-installs my backed up apps. The web based AppWorld is atrocious in that most of the time it either doesn't recognize my phone is attached to the computer or it simply somehow disconnects my phone from the computer. I've been re-installing the OS and apps for the past three hours. I hope their whole ecosystem, not just the new phones, is getting an overhaul.

I wonder how you guys discovered the function
Did a list of changes come with the update or did you just randomly decide to press the mute key

Never thought I'd say this but every time I read this post of yours I literally laugh my @ss off. It's one of the funniest comments I've read to date.

Another "neat" feature that you'll use a few times when you first get your phone, but in real life situations where talking to your phone while enunciating your words clearly might not be the best way to get things rolling. Which is pretty much in every real-life situation except when you're alone at home without the tv or radio or fan, or anything else on...

I prefer to just tap or click one or two buttons to get where I need to go, thanks...

I don't disagree with you, but quite honestly, the feature was more likely included for the purpose of RIM's expansion into the automotive sector where it will be necessary.

I don't think Apple, Microsoft, or RIM can keep up with Google's software innovation rate. I love RIM, but times have changed and Google already hired all the brainiacs. Even if RIM pulls it off and has a badass voice recognition app, Apple will sue their pants off...which isn't right. Not trolling...I'm still rooting for RIM and BB 10 but I just don't see this even beginning to compete. :(

I'd be curious to learn a bit about what RIM is doing on the recruiting front as it relates to acquiring top talent...

I am in the camp of those who say that voice functionality such as this has limited usage in mobile devices other than in private settings such as your vehicle. However, voice will become a critical feature for the connected car and home, all of which QNX wants to be part of. So it is important for RIM to perfect the technology. And in doing so, RIM wants to involve developers in assisting to move the technology forward - hence the reason for including it in an alpha device which only developers have. I suspect that voice will continue to have limited functionality in the first BB10 device, and so it will not be heavily promoted like Apple has promoted SIRI - RIM does not have the ability to fool the masses like Apple. I think RIM sees more immediate opportunities in leveraging NFC for the next few years, and maybe there comes a point down the line where voice can competently play a bigger role.

When RIM offered I speech for free I downloaded it. I speak English with no accent and I was not impressed with the results. It was unable to recreate the very simple replays on BBM or text. "Be home in 15 minutes" would turn into "Bee however in fifteen moreevers" Was not impressed and just ended up deleteing the app. Hope this works better.
As far as Siri goes several people that I know with Iphones used it for awhile as a novelty and for the most part are over it and dont use it.

They need to have Kevin go out there and say a couple of statements and use his voice. In fact we'll call it KEVIN. UP YOURS SIRI!