Although it is possible/probable that they may miss their end of year deadline, the hard-working tech-elves over at Google X are attempting to bring a Google audio digital assistant, ala Siri, to Android for the holidays. Obviously, we know that there are already several usable facsimiles of the iPhone 4S software for Android that we have had for some time before Siri. However, what makes this iteration unique, besides the fact that it is being developed directly by Google, is the focus and direction they are taking it.
First of all, the name of the project is called Majel. If that doesn't ring any bells, don't sweat it. Find one of your friends who is a Star Trek fan, and they might point out it is in reference to Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the wife of Gene Roddenberry, and the voice of the Federation computer on the Enterprise in the Star Trek: Next Generation TV Series. This name wasn't just chosen because it was a cute marketing gimmick either. Apparently, that is the direction the Google engineers are taking their voice assistant. It is intended to be an evolution of their previous foray, Voice Actions, but this time, they intend the voice interaction to be more natural and to work like it did in Star Trek. Instead of having to issue specific commands like “send text to…” or “navigate to…”, Majel will be designed to handle things in natural language. In fact, Google’s Matias Duarte, previously gave hints about the focus of this new software. He said,
Furthermore, it is likely that the voice that your device speaks back to you with will be improved as well. Google acquired the company Phonetic Arts at the end of 2010, and they are working to give users several options of greatly enhanced computer voices.“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.”
It would be great if they were able to make their deadline, and bring us something by the end of the year, but even if it must come early next year instead, it'll be interesting to see what the Google X engineers come up with.
Source: Android.net via AndroidandMe