Google is working up a voice-activated assistant to rival the iPhone 4S’s headline-grabbing Siri app, the company’s Director of Android OS User Experience has confirmed.
Siri, which features heavily in ad campaigns for Apple’s latest smartie, enables users to conduct voice searches, set reminders, schedule meetings and dictate text messages and mails.
High-profile teething troubles aside, such as temporary server takedowns and no search support for UK businesses, Siri has proved one of the most impressive features of Apple’s latest smartie.
That’s principally because of its natural language processing smarts that mean it gets the gist of what we’re asking and doesn’t require users to stick to a script for commands.
Although Android phones offer more rudimentary voice functions such as dictation and commands for calls and texts and whathaveyou, they don’t yet feature anything as advanced as Siri.
But that won’t be the case for too much longer. According to Android and Me, Google is currently working on a project dubbed 'Majel' which will match Siri’s levels of understanding of everyday speech.
However, anyone expecting the same wry tenor and witty responses to posers as Apple’s app is likely to be disappointed, with Mattis Duarte of Google ruling out that approach in an interview with Slash Gear from earlier this year.
Duarte said: "The metaphor I like to take is – if it’s Star Wars, 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.
He added: “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.”
"And you can talk to it and you can touch it, you can interact with it at the same time as you talk with it. It’s just another way to interface with the computer.”
Majel, which takes its name from the voice of the Federation computer in Star Trek, could be due for release before the end of the year.
Android and Me