BlackBerry 10.3.1 Adds Amazon Appstore And Voice-Activated Assistant

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BlackBerry 10.3.1 provides access to more apps, content on PC and tablet and BlackBerry Assistant

BlackBerry 10 device users now have access to many of the most popular Android applications following the addition of the Amazon Appstore to the platform.

The company has called for developers to be legally forced to make apps for its devices following the growing campaign for the principles of net neutrality to be enshrined in law, but BlackBerry 10 users now have a greater choice of software without the need for such legislation.

Amazon’s marketplace will sit alongside the existing BlackBerry World app store in BlackBerry 10.3.1 which is being rolled out to all BlackBerry 10 smartphones, including the BlackBerry Passport, Z30, Z3, Z10, Q10, Q5 as well as the Porsche Design P’9983 and P’9982.

The BlackBerry Classic will not receive the update as the software comes preloaded onto the device.

BlackBerry 10.3.1

BlackBerry BlendThe update adds support for BlackBerry Blend (left), which lets users view notifications, emails, texts, calendars and media on Mac, Windows, iOS and Android tablets and PCs, as well as the BlackBerry Assistant – the company’s rival to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

BlackBerry says what separates its voice-activated personal assistant from others is that it response differently to different types of input. For example a text query will receive a text response, a voice query will get a vocal reply, and if a Bluetooth connection is used, extra context is provided because it is assumed a user is away from their phone.

BlackBerry Hub now has instant actions that let users take bulk actions on messages, while users with QWERTY devices can set keyboard shortcuts. The camera app now recommends the best settings and has new image options, while new meeting and battery saving profiles set the phone to silent and let user choose which apps to shut down to save power.

The update is currently rolling out to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with other regions such as North America covered at a later date. Once it is ready to download, a notification should appear in BlackBerry Hub.

The Canadian manufacturer has also revealed red limited edition Passport, which will be sold nin the UK through online retailers like Amazon and Clove.

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