BlackBerry 10.3: Release date & features

BlackBerry 10.3 will debut on the 4.5in Passport handset. Here's everything we know so far

BlackBerry 10.3 has made itsdebut at the worldwide launch event for the firm'sPassport smartphone.

Theevent took place in Toronto earlier today, with attendees treated to a thorough walkthrough of all 10.3 and the Passport has to offer.

The Canadian handset maker has already revealed the software will feature a Siri-like voice assistant, called BlackBerry Assistant, which it claims is more accurate than rivals.

Below, we run through everything there is to know about BlackBerry 10.3, including details about its prospective release date and known new features.

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry plans on debuting a 4.5in device with a square display and a physical keyboard.

The screen will have a resolution of 1440 x 1440 and negate the need for users to rotate the device between portrait and landscape mode.

Other core features include a Snapdragon quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of memory and a 3450mAh battery pack.

Release date

BB 10.3 is expected to make its debut on the firm's forthcoming BlackBerry Passport device, which is being launched and release today.

Users of existing BlackBerry 10 devices including the Z10, Q10, Z30 and Q5 will have to wait for the BB 10.3.1 update to drop before they can get access to it.

At the time of writing, it's unclear when that will happen, although BlackBerry has previously stated it will be before the end of 2014.

Features

The BB 10.3 SDK has been available for BlackBerry 10 app developers to download and beta test since the middle of May 2014, so a fair amount is known about the OS.

BlackBerry also released a comprehensive blog post at the time of the SDK's launch, running through the operating system's wide range of new features.

BlackBerry Assistant

One of the standout additions is the inclusion of BlackBerry Assistant, as we mentioned above, which will allow users of BlackBerry 10 devices to use voice and typed commands to operate their smartphones.

The devices can also be synced, via a Bluetooth connection, to road vehicles to enable BlackBerry users to operate their phones while driving without using their hands or taking their eyes off the road.

During the launch event, BlackBerry went to great lengths to flag how this feature stacks up to the likes of Apple's virtual assistant Siri.

As such, the company said - unlike Siri - it's virtual assistant has access to both users' work and personal data, meaning it has a more rounded view of what the device's owner is up to.

For example, if someone was to ask Siri what their day looks like, the number of items it would bring up would be far lower than those thrown up by BlackBerry Assistant.

New BB UI

BlackBerry is also promising users a reworked user interface, including updated icons for every app, and a new-look home screen.

BlackBerry Hub revamp

The BlackBerry Hub, a feature that allows users to keep track of the emails, social media notifications and text messages they receive, is also being tweaked.

The

In 10.3 users will be able to download all their email attachments at the touch of a button, so users can get access to them when offline.

Users will also get the option to file their sent messages into specific folders, as well as retrieve messages that are no longer stored on their devices using its new Remote IMAP search feature.

A reset function has also been introduced to the Hub, which will close and auto-save open documents after 30 minutes of inactivity.

BlackBerry Calendar

Along with the other productivity improvements, BlackBerry is also sprucing up its calendar feature by including a weekly view, and the option to create reminders for future tasks within the calendar app, which will also show up in the software's Remember tab.

The notification manager will also take its lead from what's booked into people's calendars to prevent their devices from going off at inopportune moments during meetings.

This article was originally published on 18 July, before being updated most recently again on 24 September 2014.

Natural Sound Technology

As part of its bid to boost call quality, BlackBerry is including technology in 10.3 and on the Passport that canadapt the volume of calls to the environment a user is in.

It also listens to the loudness of the other person speaking, so the volume can be adjusted accordingly.

BlackBerry Blend

This new feature allows users to connect their BlackBerry device to a desktop PC or tablet and pull up their BlackBerry workspace on it. From here they can save business documents, work on reports and access emails stored on the Passport, for example, but from a personal device.

During the launch presentation, the company said the feature works on Android, Windows, Macs and iOS devices.

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