Google’s response to Siri is codenamed Majel, could be released by end of year

I wrote about Google’s response to Apple’sSiri voice assistant several months ago andover the last couple weeks I received further details about the secret project.For starters it is codenamed Majel, which comes from MajelBarrett-Roddenberry, better known as the voice ofthe Federation Computer from Star Trek.

Majel is an evolution of Google’s VoiceActions that is currently available on most Androidphones with the addition of natural language processing. Where Voice Actionsrequired you to issue specific commands like “send text to…” or “navigate to…”,Majel will allow you to perform actions in your natural language similar to howSiri functions.

Speaking of actions, it sounds like only Google search queries will beincluded with the initial release, that could come as soon as this year. I saythis year because I’ve heard that engineers at Google X are workingaround the clock on finishing the first release and the NYTimes previouslyreported that one product would be released by Google X this year.

December if nearly half over, so a January or February release might bemore realistic. Other more advanced features like controlling phone actions andapplications with natural language commands are expected to come later.
Google’s Matias Duarte had previously given hints about the future ofAndroid’s voice actions in an interview with Slashgear. Matiassaid, “Our approach is more like Star Trek, right, starship Enterprise; everypiece of computing surface, everything is voice-aware. It’s not that there’s apersonality, it doesn’t have a name, it’s just Computer.”
I had previously speculated that Google’s approach might actually includesome kind of animated avatar, but itappears I was way off on that one. However, we still expect greatly enhancedcomputer voices that sound more human and fluid, thanks to Google’s acquisition of Phonetic Arts, which occurred at the tail end of 2010.
Hopefully more concrete details will leak out soon. People smarter than Iwill read this article and I’m sure they will be able to dig up additionaliformation. In the mean time, enjoy Data talking with Computer in the videobelow.


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