Ask any honest Android fanboy what he envies aboutchances are good that he or she will menton Siri. And since we're speaking honestly, I'll be the first to admit that this is one feature that I wish my Android could do.
Thankfully, we should have an official client on the way as rumors of a "Majel" project began picking up steam this week. Factoring in the early details uncovered by Android And Me and one very recent acquisition, it appears that Google is wasting no time in bringing about a rebuttal.
In the few days since the first information came to light, Android And Me has obtained new tips that paint the picture of a fast-tracked project. One particularly interesting detail comes from a source who claims to have spent time with an early release.
Their tipster advises that it was "definitely as good, or better, than Siri" and that the version that he used was tablet-based. The source goes on to describe trays of results, which can be swiped away or selected based on what the user was looking for.
"Like, if you say 'show me the Statue of Liberty' it'll automatically take you to Google Image results, but another tray beneath it might be its location on Google Maps and then another tray might have a Wikipedia page. It's also pretty good at giving you succinct answers if you ask it a question. The UI is definitely more powerful than Siri's, even if a little harder to navigate. At least one phase of the development you would activate it by saying 'Computer...' It was hard not to use a Jean Luc Piccard accent when doing it!"
A second, anonymous Google employee indicates that over the last few years Google X's focus has been based around a supersmart AI robot that leverages the tech behind a number of popular Google programs. Described as being "the most amazing thing" he'd ever seen, the AI had passed the Turing Test 93 percent of the time over the course of an hour long IM-like conversation.
Based on what I'm reading here, I see a future of being able to talk with my phone in a casual manner for extended periods of time, and not with simple requests such as, "What is the weather forecast for San Diego tomorrow?"
Skip to around 5:13 in the video below to see exactly what type of questions Google expects to be able to handle in the future. I don't know about you, but this sounds like a more-than-viable alternative to Siri.
Android And Me goes on to pull together quotes from industry players including Google's Manager of Speech Technology and Google's computer-interface designer and user-experience lead. I find it interesting to look back at all of these statements and interviews as many of them feature references to Star Trek.
As CNET blogger Lance Whitney pointed out earlier this week, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry provided the voice to the computer system from the television series. Has Google been leaving bread crumbs to the project all along, hiding it in plain site?
As I read through the comments from the various outlets covering the Majel project, I sense a growing excitement over an official Google product of this scale. If there's any name that could power a new search and AI system for Android, it would be Google.
It is expected that Majel will find its way into the market in early 2012 where I assume it will be offered as a standalone application. It would not surprise me to see Google unveil the next release of Android (Jellybean) in June at Google IO and announce that Majel is integrated into the platform itself.