AppleInsider mentions a new unverified report that Google is working on its own voice assistant for Android to compete with Siri. Codename: “Majel” after the late Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the actress who voiced the on-board computer in Star Trek.
Android and Me claims to have received details on the project, which is codenamed “Majel” after the late Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the actress who voiced the Federation Computer from Star Trek. Barrett-Roddenberry was also the wife of the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry and played numerous roles throughout the franchise’s history.
The voice assistant will be an “evolution” of Google’s current Voice Actions feature in Android, adding natural language processing similar to Apple’s Siri.
The initial release of Majel will apparently only perform Google search queries. Reportedly engineers at the company’s Google X lab are working feverishly to prepare for the release of the app. Advanced features, such as controlling calling actions and applications would be added in a later release.
The AppleInsider article continues: “Matias Duarte, Google’s Director of Android User Experiences, may have hinted at the Star Trek codename last month when he compared the company’s approach to the science-fiction franchise. ‘Our approach is more like Star Trek, right, starship Enterprise; every piece of computing surface, everything is voice-aware. It’s not that there’s a personality, it doesn’t have a name, it’s just ‘Computer,” he said.”
Duarte made comments that recall the classic Star Trek vs. Star Wars rivalries by comparing the groundbreaking Siri to the comical and bumbling C-3PO from the George Lucas movie series, saying, “You have these robot personalities like C-3PO who runs around and he tries to do stuff for you, messes up and makes jokes, he’s kind of a comic relief guy.”
Apple released Siri as a feature of the new iPhone 4S. The Siri team has worked to give the personal assistant a friendly personality, albeit one with a slight edge.
The arrival of Siri has resulted in several attempts at clones in the Android Market, but they all have limited functionality. Among industry experts there are those that believe that Apple is years ahead of it competition. Apple is not content to relax and allow its competitors to catch up however, as the company posted several job listings for engineers to help further develop the Application Programming Interface, and create new features. In an October report, The Wall Street Journal said the Siri development team is one of the largest groups at Apple.