According to unnamed sources within Google (News - Alert), the company is supposedly cultivating a personal voice assistant to compete with Apple’s Siri. The product, which will reportedly be called Google Assistant, has been in development by Google’s Android (News - Alert) team for some time, according to reports.
Rumors have been circulating about Google Assistant since late 2011, when Wall Street Daily reported that the Android team was developing a voice assistant named “Majel,” after Majel Barrett, the late wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Majel Barrett served as the computer voice aboard many successive Starfleet ships in a number of Star Trek series.
Analysts speculate that Google would use its ability to track online behavior to morph Google Assistant into a more personalized experience than that provided by Siri. Google may also open up its application programming interface to open source developers, allowing any application in the Android Market to integrate with Google Assistant. This could mean that users would be able to explore the applications on their Android devices without ever touching the screen.
Of course, any new release from Google would probably result in a major update to Siri. Currently, other Nuance (News - Alert) technology rivals to Siri, like Evi and DragonGo! can perform functions related to voice-relayed commands but cannot integrate seamlessly with iOS applications. For example, if someone asked Siri to schedule a lunch appointment on a Wednesday, Siri would open iCal, write in the appointment and inform the user of any potential conflicts. Evi or DragonGo! have the ability to write into a web browser page, but not to launch or read information from the application.
The International Business Times points out three potential layers to Google’s strategy if Google Assistant wants to be competitive with Siri. First, Google would have to translate the world’s knowledge into a format that a computer could understand (no small feat). Second, Google would leverage its monitoring of online behavior to create a unique personalization layer. Third, Google would have to focus on an application that can help to accomplish real life goals, not just return search engine results. One area where Google could improve significantly on Siri’s performance is to increase the speed with which results are pushed to the user.
Google did not respond to requests for comment.
Edited by Rich Steeves