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Google planning a Siri rival called Majel, for Android

Majel will be an updated iteration of Google’s Voice Actions, an app that’s currently available for download on Android devices.

gadgets Updated: Dec 15, 2011 18:49 IST

Majel is to Android as Siri is to Apple’s iOS.



Okay, it’s not a perfect analogy, but it looks like Majel is the code name for Google’s version of Siri, Apple’s on-board iPhone assistant. It could be coming out on Android before the end of this year, but more than likely at the beginning of next year.



Majel will be an updated iteration of Google’s Voice Actions, an app that’s currently available for download on Android devices. Voice Actions works by listening to your command: fire up the app, say “Send text to [recipient]” or “navigate to [address/city/business name]” and the phone will do as you asked it to.



But Majel will be more natural. Much like Siri, Majel will let you perform these actions in your normal manner of speaking. That is, it’s intuitive. Well, if you consider Siri intuitive.In fact, Siri’s intuition has been called into question. Mat Honan, writing for Business Insider called it “Apple’s Broken Promise.” In the article, he argues that Apple failed to nail voice recognition and response.



Will Google do a better job?


Majel is rumored to be able to recognize Google Search queries. This is nothing new; Siri does the same. But Google has been working on voice recognition for a long time.


Google had been working on an app that personalized voice search; a program that would begin to learn and recognize how you–as an individual–speak. That app was Google Voice.



With Google Voice, you can opt-in to begin letting Google process your specific speech inflections, patterns, and speed. Over time, the app learns to adjust itself to your voice.



If Google builds that technology into Majel–and there’s no reason to assume they won’t–those annoying Siri-esque responses (“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that”) could be short lived.



Coupled with that, Google also announced this week that they’d purchased Clever Sense, the team that designed Alfred, an app that begins to learn what types of things you like to do and then uses that knowledge to offer up suggestions.



So we have Google search, Majel - which learns your voice, and Alfred, which learns your preferences.



It reminds me of something then Google CEO Eric Schmidt said back in October 2010:



“Ultimately search engines and the other knowledge engines that everybody is building will morph, over time, into things that help you figure out what you should be consuming and what information you should care about right now.”



Majel, named after the Federation Computer from Star Trek, is Google’s next step in that conquest.