Apple’s personal voice assistant on iOS, Siri, has garnered a lot of buzz, for better or worse, since the release of the iPhone 4S, which is the device that the voice command software is available on. Since then, various developers have tried to replicate Siri’s success on Google’s open mobile OS Android with titles such as Cluzee, Skyvi, and Speaktoit Assistant to name a few. However, it seems that Google isn’t sitting still, and according to a report on Android and Me, the Android OS-maker has been working on a revamped voice user interface for Android for much of the year codenamed Majel.
Majel will give a face lift to Voice Commands, which is the current native voice control app on Android, much like how Apple had updated Voice Controls on the iPhone with Siri. The update to Voice Command will get rid of specific voice control actions, such as ‘Navigate to,’ ‘Listen to,’ and ‘Dial,’ in favor of a more natural user language control and conversational comprehension that’s akin to Siri.
Details on Google’s new voice competitor are still scarce, but given that the company is said to be working on Majel for close to a year now, we may see it soon.
How soon? It could come either by the end of this year, which doesn’t leave much time left, or early next year.
Given that Android head Matias Duarte had given hints to a Star Trek-like approach employed by Android when speaking about Ice Cream Sandwich, and that Majel is actually a Star Trek reference, we may see this solution land sooner than later as Ice Cream Sandwich was just recently released.
In talking to SlashGear, Duarte says, “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.”
The problem that exists though with Siri and any voice command interface that comes out is that the information contained within individual apps are held captive by the app unless there is integration with the OS’s voice command or SDKs and APIs are used by developers to integrate voice search into the app. For instance, as it stands, I can’t ask Siri to look up a specific recipe for pasta within a specific app. Siri could do an Internet search for recipes, but I can’t ask it for information or to perform tasks within apps right now.