updated 06:50 pm EST, Tue December 13, 2011
Google may boost voice search through Majel engine
Google is building its own Android copy of the Siri voice technology from the iPhone 4S, according to one rumor Tuesday. Nicknamed Majel based on Gene Roddenberry's wife and the computer voice of many Star Trek: The Next Generation-era spaceships, the engine Android and Me was would provide natural-language search. It would initially focus only on Google searches, presumably including content like general queries and maps.
The technology was supposedly being worked on by Google X, the same experimental group that works on self-driving cars. Unlike the mostly theoretical automotive hardware, Majel would be intended as a real product and had a team "working around the clock" to get it ready. The site thought it might arrive before the end of the year, although this is more extrapolation from an earlier New York Times implication regarding Google X than anything definite.
Android was one of the first smartphone platforms to get extensive voice command support as of Voice Actions in Android 2.2, from mid-2010. Even as of Android 4.0 devices, though, it only supports either text dictation or basic commands with specific syntax. Apple's system is considered a major advancement since it not only allows natural language but understands context and indirect questions.
Google's interface lead, Matias Duarte, has said he wants pervasive voice even beyond what Android already has.