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Providing an excuse for tech blogs everywhere to talk about Star Trek, there’s a rumor that Google might be releasing their own Android-based version of Apple’s Siri, a voice-based assistant. The "secret" Google project is rumored to be named Majel, as in Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and, among other things, the voice of the Federation Computer.
Slashgear tags the original source of the rumor here, at Android and Me. They note the Google Android already has the capability of processing some verbal commands, but that Majel would be able to handle natural language, just like Siri can. Some version of Majel is rumored to be released early next year. There aren’t many details out there about the rumored Siri rival, or, indeed, any confirmation at all that it’s based in truth.
Slashgear was right to peg the original post on the rumor as "less than brick solid" on the facts. In response Android and Me have dug up some Reddit posts and anonymous tips claiming to be from Google employees or others who have interacted with the project. Most of the similes employees use to describe the project are (you guessed it) Star Trek-y.
Almost every post on the rumor notes a useful and interesting moment from Slashgear’s interview with Matias Duarte, Google’s Director of Android OS User Experience. When asked whether Google’s voice control offerings can compete with Siri, he had this to say:
Our approach is different. The metaphor I like to take is – if it’s Star Wars, you have these robot personalities like C-3PO who runs around and he tries to do stuff for you, messes up and makes jokes, he’s kind of a comic relief guy. 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.” And you can talk to it and you can touch it, you can interact with it at the same time as you talk with it. It’s just another way to interface with the computer.