Report: Google to accelerate development on personal voice assistant app Majel

With Apple making big changes to Siri in iOS 6 it looks like Google wants to take over the personal assistant game. They’ve long been rumored to be working on a Siri competitor named Majel, but a swing-and-a-miss on a rumored launch window at the end of 2011 had us a bit worried.

Google have begun to accelerate development of Majel, if Wall Street Journal’s sources are to be believed. And we now have a bit of an idea as to why it’s taking Google so long.

They report that they want Majel to be so much more than Siri. They want Majel to be the personality it’s named after more than just a nice-sounding lady who delivers the weather and makes your appointments for you.

We’re not exactly sure what they’re planning to do but we imagine it’ll be very cool regardless. There’s no telling if we’ll see this at Google I/O or not, but we are keeping our fingers crossed and holding on tight for hope.

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  • tom-e

    Quentyn, can you write a SINGLE article without comparing Android to your beloved Apple?

    Or for that matter, can you write a single article that doesn’t mention Apple or it’s products anywhere??

    • Andzzzz

      Can you write a SINGLE response without trolling? Clearly, Majel is competing against Siri in features. There is absolutely nothing wrong with recognizing competition and its strengths and weaknesses.

      Sorry Tomass, developers don’t live in a bubble anymore.

      • storm14k

        Honestly I hate people calling it a Siri competitor when Google was already working on this. Apple just bought a solution. Its kinda an injustice to Google’s work.

        • malcmilli

          regardless, it will be a siri competitor since siri hit the market first. What goes on behind the scenes doesn’t matter, all that matters is the final product.

          • storm14k

            Like anything else it all depends on how its framed. The mainstream tech media is of course framing it as “siri competitor” because it will make it easy for people to try to dismiss it as a copy. I would think that the Android fan blogs would take every opportunity to point out that Google has been actually researching this for some time and isn’t just looking to answer Siri.

          • malcmilli

            well copy and competitor are two completely different things. Xbox didnt “copy” playstation, but its really silly to get upset about someone calling xbox a playstation competitor. I know what you are saying but you cant get mad at someone for using the correct terminology just because a few fanboys want to argue things that don’t matter.

          • storm14k

            But the Xbox WAS a PS competitor. It was designed to compete with the PS. I get what you’re saying but I still believe it discredits Google’s work to keep framing it as a competitor. Their aim was not to compete as they were working on this before Siri became popular. And there’s also the possibility that this is far beyond what Siri is. Its like calling Siri a IBM Watson competitor. Two different leagues.

          • malcmilli

            i know what you are saying as well, but when someone comes out the gate first, they are in fact first and therefor have the lone horse in the race. Anything released afterwards that performs similarly will in fact be a competitor. I understand your frustration, but you can either be frustrated with Google for taking so long… or if they work as hard as you say they did, then when Google releases their voice assistant and it blows siri out of the water, it won’t matter.

            It never matters which comes out first in the end or what is label what, all that matters is which product is better in the end. Even if you copy and manipulate, if your product is better, people will stop calling it a copy really quickly.

          • storm14k

            True. Can’t be upset at them taking their time if they are truly developing something revolutionary.

    • Quentyn Kennemer

      I hold no personal affection for Apple. Google is clearly competing with Apple, and I merely mentioned they could be accelerating Majel’s development due to recent developments with Siri. What’s so bad about that?

  • RitishOemraw

    I am with tom-e on most articles, but I can forgive the comparison in this one.

    On-topic: Can;t wait for i/o

    so excited!

  • Asimoalex

    I would honestly just be ok with Glados voice honestly

    • PC_Tool

      I would love to see someone write a mod for Google Navigation using GladOS’s voice/attitude.

      • J. Patrick Smith

        Are you nuts? GlaDOS Navigator would probably tell you to take a right turn into the river.

        • PC_Tool

          Well, that would take a good bite out of the folks blindly following GPS and endangering everyone else. ;-)

          I can hear her now as the mini-van floats away…

          “I can’t believe you fell for that… If I had known it would be that easy, I would have just told you to go forward while still in your garage.”

          • Asimoalex

            maybe thats what that one women that walked into traffic was beta testing lol

          • PC_Tool

            Success!! ;-)

        • Matthew Merrick

          i would so buy that <3

  • Droid

    Siri may have been the first majorly known “assistant” for a smartphone (wouldn’t call the iPhone that smart), but when it comes to voice recognition, Google came first and has done a fantastic job. I can’t wait for Majel to be integrated into Android.

  • Peter Wilcox

    I am looking forward to the I/o… Hopefully this will crush sri and S-Voice..

  • Andy


    +1 through the roof!

  • Itchy_Robot

    I want Fred Sanford for my assitant voice.

    • RichHeimlich

      Hehe. I wonder just how many readers have any clue who that is. I, for one, would love that. “I’m coming, Elizabeth!”

      • Itchy_Robot

        Esther would be a good voice too =)
        “Watch it sucka!”

        • barry99705

          Florence from Alice!

      • barry99705

        The real question, would the networks make a tv show like that now a days?

  • King_James_The_Wicked

    I am pleased enough with Google Voice Search… Siri sucks in my opinion. I have several friends who own Iphone’s and none of them are too pleased with the Siri system. If I want a robot woman’s voice to tell me what to do I will turn on my Garmin.

  • youareme7

    All these voice apps are so far just novelty or gimmick, I really hope Google pulls out all the stops and introduces something truly natural and innovative to use.

  • MrStylz

    I have had no problems using the current Android voice controls… I don’t need the response to come up in a little window to have it deemed be a success.

    • ericl5112

      A window might be unneeded. After all, if you can see the window, it’s probably faster to type. However, android voice controls don’t talk back. There is almost nothing you can do with android voice control without touching the device a few times, and reading off the screen. Kind of kills one of the most useful places in voice, the car.

  • Magus2300

    I don’t want to talk to my phone to have it do stuff. It’s a nice gimmick but beyond that… meh.

  • SuperChunk

    Hell yeah they need to get that ish out. While Google’s current voice dictation and command system is ok, it has glaring issues with non-English names and an inability to refer the the nickname field that exists in the contacts. Making it useless if you have many important contacts that are not typical names. Then all the third party apps have glaring issues making them unusable.

    I want something that I can use with my bluetooth in my car that will allow me to be fully hands free. Where I can still text/answer/call/turn on ‘pandora’ or ‘any app name’ by just my voice. Some third parties are getting close to that (skyvi actually did a lot including usage of nickname field) but they still have issues or ads or cost money I flat out don’t want to spend when I know a Google implementation is coming.

  • mmark27

    the big issue with all these voice actions (Siri, S-voice, Google Voice Search as it exists now) is that they A) rely on data connections [and Sprint has some of the worst] and B) they lag (mostly due to A). I want to use my voice commands more on my GSGII but they just end up disappointing. Its more than just what it can understand, they have to streamline the whole process and idea so its instant. That’s what will make Majel successful, if its truly useful and not just Samuel Jackson telling Siri to do retarded things.

  • indio7777

    I’m happy with Google’s current voice search capabilities…”Call Chili’s” “What’s the weather in Chicago” “What’s the square root of…..” All you have to do is hold down the magnifying glass button for search to pop up…Works great and I use it all the time. And it was available waaay before Siri.

  • Angel De La Riva

    They should have Alan Rickman do the voice.

  • Aslan Bollin

    If I have to have a voice for my voice search/assistant I want KITT from knight Rider, but he must be accompanied with the segmented red bars. No microphone icon/logo.

  • BustaArmov

    I just hope they stock it with better jokes, and stories. Big win if they stock it with dirty jokes. Bigger win if they stock it with iPhone jokes. Biggest win if they stock it with Siri jokes in “Yo Mama” format.

  • Baron

    I hope that it has multiple voice capability. I’d love to hear Marina Sirtis personally.

  • leaponover

    I want my voice to be Dennis Leary, ” I’m not making an f%$#ing appointment for you! Do it yourself you lazy b*&%h. Do I look like a f#$%ing maid!”
    Anyway, Google needs to stop dragging ass on this. If it’s not announced at I/O, I can’t see them announcing anything else that’s going to be noteworthy especially with the rumor that Jelly Bean is just going to be a small update.