Google ‘Assistant' to take on Apple's Siri later this year

It’s been a few months since we last heard about Google’s plans to build a rival to Apple’s Siri digital assistant but the project, it seems, is still alive and well. The last wave of information came back in December, when development was reportedly under the wing of Google’s secretive X Lab; back then, the project was known under its codename, ‘Majel’ – a tip of the hat to Majel Barrett Roddenberry, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and voice of Starfleet’s LCARS computer network in the show.

According to TechCrunch, the project is no longer under Google X stewardship, and has dropped its codename in favour of a new moniker: Google Assistant. Now under the management of the Android development team, the aim is not merely to duplicate what Siri can do for Google, but to go much further than Siri, both in terms of breadth of ability, and how developers can use the technology too.

Development of Assistant is reportedly happening in three phases; the first is to ‘get the world’s knowledge into a format a computer can understand’, and it’s probably fair to say that this isn’t an overnight job. Once that leviathan task is complete, the next step is to devise ways to personalise content and how people interact with it; Google+ and Google+1 are said to be a key component in understanding how users discover and consume content.

The third stage is to build the Assistant itself, creating a “do engine” that is focused on completing specific tasks rather than presenting a range of options (or search results) that only get you one step closer to completing your goal.

Google also plans to go further than Apple, by opening up Assistant (to some degree at least) to the developer community, so that the technology can be integrated into third-party products. Siri, on the other hand, currently works only with a curated set of applications and functions chosen by Apple, although that may change by the time Google’s Assistant arrives.

Google is said to be focusing heavily on Assistant development, and is believed to be planning a launch before the end of the year.

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The biggest problem with VAs is really voice recognition and the ability to keep people using it. Many people get bored with SIRI and similar other apps very soon. So unless Google brings out new things to do with "Assistant" I don't necessarily see it superseding SIRI.

In a statement today put out by Vic 'Two-Turkeys' Guntodra, Google denied they were yet again copying everything Apple did.

'Oh, no!', squeeked Vic, 'Apple actually copied us! We launched our program six months ago but we kept it secret. This was a ploy to catch Apple red-handed, which obviously we've done. Apple secretly stole our plans and copied us.

'Google never copy anyone. Well, except Microsoft, obviously. But we don't copy Apple at all. Or not very much at least. We have an internal policy that we don't copy anything Apple does every Tuesday.'

Steve Jobs was unavailable for comment.

Any and all improvements welcome for voice. I just installed a 3rd party voice dialer because it allows me to customize contacts and apps to what I WANT and works offline, which Google doesn't.

I still use it to email, navigate to, note to self, etc. Love em.

The capabilities of Android right now are already better than Siri. The only plus to Siri is making it more part of the physial UI. That is the only thing Siri does better. I have the 4S, but I disable Siri because i got sick of it hogging my data usage, even when I wasn't using it.

I turn it on when I am driving to get directions because that si the only case where Siri is faster than me typing them.

One of the biggest things I love about Android is Voice/Turn by Turn Navigation. Siri needs to be able to do this.

Right now her voice is annoying.

So do we get to bitch and complain about Google stealing a feature from iOS? Since all you Apple-haters constantly whine when iOS gets a feature that already existed in some form in a past OS...

I used the Genius system in my MyTouch 3G Slide and now on my 4G Slide way before Siri was available. It comes in very handy when in the car or otherwise need hands-free use. I know four people with a 4S and other than playing with Siri when they first got their phones, they don't use it, now. Two of them never could get it to work correctly because they have a foreign accent. The other two just got bored with it.

Having used the 'Sonar' voice control functions in the Dolphin HD browser app on Android, I'm converted on how useful voice control is. Previously, I thought it was a gimmick, but if it works properly, then it really could change the way you do things.

As currently sonar is limited to the browser, it's great for performing searches, or navigating through the apps menus and opening bookmarks etc, and I'm finding that I'm using it a lot, especially in this cold weather when I don't want to take off my gloves!

If controlling the whole phone OS works as well, then I really think a lot of people would find it useful.

A few years ago, no one would have thought that touch screen devices would proliferate the way they have, where practically everything is a touch screen, or soon will be.

I think that voice control is probably going to do the same - you can't imagine it now, but given a few years of improvements, I think it's likely that we will be controlling computers, tablets and phones by voice.

"Computer, how to I make transparent aluminum?"....

mbowman said,
do people actually use siri? everyone i know with a 4S just got bored of it after a couple of weeks.

They do, I know people who use it all the time. Each to their own I guess.

mbowman said,
do people actually use siri? everyone i know with a 4S just got bored of it after a couple of weeks.

Most people I know don't.

mbowman said,
do people actually use siri? everyone i know with a 4S just got bored of it after a couple of weeks.

I try, but some times I'm forever denied by network issues. And being in the UK makes Siri far less useful. The only uses I have for it is a neat handsfree feature. I can ask it to read me my last text, reply and then continue playing my songs. Awesome.

I doubt it'll have anywhere near the success Siri has. Just like the current voice search features, Google doesn't have the marketing clout, unlike Apple, to make it's users actually aware of what fuctionality they actually have. A major part of Siri's success was the fact Apple really put it in your face and made it abundantly clear it was there...can't see Google doing that to be honest and as been stated before, it'll get slamed by Apple fans for copying Siri. That is my 2 cents, take with a grain of salt.

You can say whatever you want, but Apple made voice-control so much more popular then it was before. TV show-hosts promoted it, laughed about it, admired it and the commercials from Apple are great.

Siri was introduced, and a few months later everyone knows what it means. Smart decision to make the feature like it's personal, instead of calling it something like "Voice control". Siri is almost like a personal assistant.

Can't wait to see the name Google comes up for their assistant.

Dannydeman said,
You can say whatever you want, but Apple made voice-control so much more popular then it was before. TV show-hosts promoted it, laughed about it, admired it and the commercials from Apple are great.

Siri was introduced, and a few months later everyone knows what it means. Smart decision to make the feature like it's personal, instead of calling it something like "Voice control". Siri is almost like a personal assistant.

Can't wait to see the name Google comes up for their assistant.

Why name it at all, google isn't akin to following the cool kids crowd. Me personally, I feel akward communicating with a phone like its a real person. I'd rather give it distinct specific commands. Somthing to do with the uncanny vally.

IE; navigate to Johns Pizza
vs; Bob can you tell me how to get to Johns Pizza? Sure <insertname>, here are directions. Would you like to know more?

To each his own.

It says something impressive about the age we live in if a handheld device that can sort of carry on even a very limited conversation with its user isn't really "that great" (even though it does need a remote server to do the work)!! I would guess there are a few other technologies at least comparable to Apple's, not the least of which being Evi, and I would fully expect the Google technology to be competitive with it.

I know this might be just a gimmicks but... Dann in excited for this. I'm not excited about apple fanboys claiming that Android copied Siri though

Ently said,
I know this might be just a gimmicks but... Dann in excited for this. I'm not excited about apple fanboys claiming that Android copied Siri though

Apple didn't invent it.

Siri wasn't really that great to begin with, so Google shouldn't have any problem doing better than Apple.

Enron said,
Siri wasn't really that great to begin with, so Google shouldn't have any problem doing better than Apple.
true... it never recognized my voice properly..