Google accelerating plans to launch Siri competitor code-named Majel

By , Jun 19, 2012

We’ve known for awhile that Google’s been working on improving Voice Actions in Android. Needless to say, last October’s release of the iPhone 4S and its headline voice assistant feature dubbed Siri sent Google’s engineers back to the drawing board in an attempt to re-envision what conversing with an Android device should be like. According to the well-informed Wall Street Journal, the search giant has now “accelerated” plans to bring Siri competitor to the market.

Jessica E. Vascellaro and Amir Efrati, writing for the Journal (emphasis mine):

As Google and Apple’s share has grown, the fighting between them has intensified. Last week, Apple unveiled the next version of its software for iPhones and iPads with a slate of features aimed at distancing itself from Google.

They include a mapping service and enhanced Siri “virtual assistant” that provides an alternative way to search for information besides the traditional Google search box.

Google, meanwhile, has accelerated plans to launch its own Siri competitor that would work on Android-powered devices, people familiar with the matter have said.

We first heard about a Google-branded Siri competitor code-named Project Majel last December. And in March of this year, TechCrunch published a story outlining a similar project reportedly called Google Assistant.

Google could unveil its Siri rival next week at Google I/O developers conference as the Journal reiterated that the search firm “is expected to unveil a lower-priced Android tablet that it developed with Asustek Computer” (here’s what we know about it so far).

It’s fairly safe to assume that Google’s upcoming assistant will tap technology from its recent acquisition of  local recommendations app Alfred for Siri-like intelligence.

This is how Voice Actions currently perform in Android.

It’s interesting that Google recognizes Siri as a major marketing advantage even if folks are torn over the usability and accuracy of Apple’s personal assistant.

Here’s a nice video of Robin, a third-party voice assistant for Android that looks to give Siri a run for its money in the navigation department.

As Jeff showed you in his Siri video demonstration, iOS 6 makes good on Tim Cook’s promisethat Apple has “a lot going on” on improving Siri. One of the more notable features in iOS 6 includes Siri’s ability to launch apps and integration with Apple Maps for spoken directions and asking questions along the route, such as nearby gas stations and more.

Siri in iOS 6 lets you check out scores from live games and the current season’s past games, schedules, team rosters, and player stats for baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer.

She can also help you pull upcoming showtimes, look up movie facts, play trailers and see ratings and reviews from Rotten Tomatoes.

Another enhancement: you can find restaurants by cuisine, price, location, outdoor seating, or a combination of choices, along with photos, Yelp stars, price range reviews and the ability to make a reservation via OpenTable.

Siri in iOS 6 also feels a lot snappier, though her voice appears to have changed to a slightly more robotic variant.

Do you think Google can catch up with Apple and beat Siri to the digital assistant punch?

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  • jose castro

    well the first off the kid is gay lol … it would of been better if it were a women, he talks like he is a virgin who has nothing better to do, lol………… i kinda prefer siri not just because i am a jailbreaker. but becuase its smother to me. but i do like how fast it is from siri.. impressive.. but thats probably because its a commercial lol

  • http://twitter.com/klouud Timothy Polumbo

    good! competition is great for everyone. Plus the more devices that have this, the more other industries will buy into it and support it. good good good.

  • http://twitter.com/MCaudebec Maxim∑

    No Siri cannot be beaten, its simply the best out there. Plus android is so fragmented 1% of devices will get this by 2015 probably

  • quietstorms

    That’s funny because I thought Andy Rubin said that he wasn’t interested in the ability for you to have a conversation with your computer or the idea of personal assistants.

    Then again if you are going to take the concept and hardware behind an entire OS you might as well take this too.

    • jose castro

      lol ya i know right, but he tries and tries and always fails hahahahha

  • http://www.facebook.com/nihasnebas Nihas Nebas

    I bet siri is good at talking to you back……………………….they dont have it and i dont think they are gonna get anywhere near

  • http://www.facebook.com/nihasnebas Nihas Nebas

    Siris got a boyfriend majel who cant talk back………..how sad………….

  • http://www.facebook.com/nihasnebas Nihas Nebas

    Siris got a boyfriend majel who cant talk back………..how sad………….

  • Wael Abdo

    Majel or S-voice none can compete with Siri, thats my opinion and then there are others…

  • http://www.facebook.com/devnath.devonic Devnath Devonic

    Apple brought out the best ideas – pc, tablets, siri etc… and other companies just copy and competes ……

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1595420643 Simche Apple Konstantinovic

      It’s not that Devnath, Apple takes time to perfect a thing, even the simplest ones that many would’ve said “why should I do this”? Look at Apps, look at details on the iDevices, look at the whole iOS! They have taken time, slowly but safely delivering something that “just works”. Ingeeners have through thought every detail at Apple, and corporates are SHOCKED like Samsung, Nokia and so on, asking them self “why are people buying those expensive phones, when ours can do the same?” Well there are many facts why, but I think that it’s just the phrase that I mention before, that truly stands for what their products are made for! They do work just as Advertised! Look at Android, you know how far it could have come if it wasn’t implemented on many other devices, with different Screen sizes and internal specs? If it would have it’s own exclusive phones just like apple, they wouldn’t have trouble with their own developers + all phones would have been eligible to upgrade to their latest OS, ice cream sandwhich, and all would enjoy the benefits of it’s features to the fullest! If that would ever be true, I would definitely get an Android over iOS, but for me, there is a clear winner who cares about it’s product to the fullest and deliver what it intends to deliver!
      Sorry for the long post/reply :p

  • http://twitter.com/oo7plasma Brandon

    I bet it will be a smash hit like Google Maps 3D

  • http://twitter.com/HernandezEnoc1 Enoc hernandez

    That a stupid name ……..does anybody agrees…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LPGIAOJ2B4WAVU5LWXMSZYMX4M Keith

      No, it’s not. I want to go on record as saying the code name is awesome. Majel Barrett, wife of Gene Roddenberry, was the voice of the computer on every one of the Star Trek TV series. Or are you too young to know what that is? :)

  • digitalusmax

    I like that it’s called Majel, no doubt as a geeky homage to Majel Barrett-Roddenberry who lent her voice to the Enterprise’s computer in the Star Trek shows.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000122495675 Ali Aledany

    to tell u the truth i like navigating to the things i want my self and not using a voice command

  • http://www.facebook.com/tyler.guilford Tyler Guilford

    I think google will blow apple out of the water in the long run. So long as apple stays closed off it cant compete with a giant like google. Google has the means and the money to buy and integrate just about anything they want. Google bought alfred specifically for this. Google bought youtube for Christs sake! Same with the windows surface vs ipad. They can’t compete with the giants who have theyre hands in other markets. Imho, eventually iphones will become irrelevant. In my mind, theyre just a fad, the popular “cool kid” thing.