Google: Android Siri Killer Coming Soon

Posted by · December 14, 2011 12:50 pm

It’s called Majel. Or rather, it’s going to be called Majel. And it’s going to kill Siri. At least that’s what Google says its mobile software minion Android is currently developing.

Igniting this rumor that has since caused mass pandemonium in the Android blogosphere was a post from Taylor Wimberly on the blog Android and Me.

“Majel is an evolution of Google’s Voice Actions that is currently available on most Android phones with the addition of natural language processing,” Wimberly writes. “Where Voice Actions required 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 how Siri functions.”

A nod to the Federation Computer in Star Trek (“Majel Barrett-Roddenberry”), the Google response to Siri could be here by the end of the year. However, Wimberly makes it clear that this shouldn’t be expected. With the end of the year rapidly approaching, she acknowledges that January or February would probably be a more “realistic” time to expect the new Android technology.

Whenever it officially debuts, it is important also to note that Majel will likely only be limited to Google search queries in its first release. Sure to come later, Wimberly assures, will be natural language commands for controlling phone actions and applications.

Even still, there are a few reservations worth highlighting.

Despite my not-so-secret Apple bias, it does not require my unconditional impartiality to realize that attacking single features on Apple products is a waste of time, at least in the long run. To the contrary, actually, the introduction of a Siri-like capability to Android phones would be more properly framed as an expectation than a so-called “Siri killer.”

This brings me to my next point: Calling a new product or feature the “killer” of its competitor is quickly becoming cliché. Instead of fueling a vendetta against the brand from which Google likely gleaned the improvements that Android is currently making to its own voice-controlled software, it would again seem more prudent to focus on providing a suitable competitor in the smartphone market. After all, most consumers don’t typically purchase devices because of single features (unless that feature is an extremely low price). Instead, consumers first choose the brand—Apple, Android, etc.—and only then decide which device to purchase.

In my case, that means deciding first that I want to get my new smartphone from Apple. Then I decide whether I want—in this case—an iPhone 4 or an iPhone 4S, what color I prefer, and, if necessary, what wireless carrier I’m going to use.

To put it simply, if you’re constantly chasing someone, then by definition you’re never going to be at the head of the pack. Seizing the lead takes the institution of a brand that consumers will unfalteringly follow, as well as the creation of either new or “like new” products and features. Case in point, although Siri was not the first voice-activated phone assistant on the scene, Apple undoubtedly distinguished itself from earlier attempts which failed to go viral.

In other words, while Apple relies on its iconic brand to validate and sell new products and features, Google still seems to endorse a philosophy that relies on individual Android features to attract consumers.