May 17 AT 10:18 PM Taylor Wimberly 60 Comments

Expect Assistant, aka Majel, to be shown off at Google IO


Last year we reported that Google was working on a secret project codenamed Majel that was meant to be a direct response to Apple’s Siri. A trusted source told us a working Android app was already in testing and we thought it could debut in December, but then Alexia Tsotsis of TechCrunch reported that the service would be called Assistant and it was slated for a Q4 2012 release.

This week Google introduced the Knowledge Graph which attempts to make search smarter by using context to understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want. Google revealed that their system now contains more than 500 million objects (landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more), as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects.

“We hope this added intelligence will give you a more complete picture of your interest, provide smarter search results, and pique your curiosity on new topics,” said Amit Singhal, SVP, Engineering. “We’re proud of our first baby step which will enable us to make search more intelligent, moving us closer to the ‘Star Trek computer‘ that I’ve always dreamt of building.”

Lots of engineers at Google are obsessed with the Star Trek computer, and the next logical step is a natural voice input and output system to interact with their Knowledge Graph. If they were already testing it late last year, then I fully expect to see a working demo of Android Assistant at Google IO next month.

Check out the latest Google video below and let us know what you think of their Knowledge Graph. Are you ready for Assistant to become a part of your daily Android experience?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • redman618

    Wow first Google googgles, now this! Whats left up Googles sleeve to complete the trifecta! Maybe they release Jellybean to ALL Google devices? Hey heres hoping right!!!

  • myandroid99

    Can’t wait to what it looks like!! I hope it’s better than siri and it probably will be

    • tmihai20

      I just hope it is good and that it will be available to all Android users. I also hope we will get lots of Star Trek innuendos :)

      • Geraldo Riviera

        Is that a tricorder in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

        • tmihai20

          Any Star Trek innuendo is welcome :))

          • mnxixgau

            HD7000 Android 2.3 OS Smart Phone TV GPS WiFi 4.1 Inch Multi-touch Capacitive Screen Cellphone! $ 166.49

    • R.S

      It doesn’t matter if it is actually better. iSheep will A) claim that Siri is still better. B) Claim that Google copied Apple.

      Plus the fact that Google doesn’t advertise while Apple does (and makes it seem better and easier to use than it actually is), most people will tend to believe Siri is better.

      • Seamus Conley

        Yes, but those of us who aren’t brainwashed by Apple can still use the service and be happy with our truly feature full voice integration.

      • Adam

        I like Apple. I have a MacBook, and I love it. However, I have an Android phone. I like Siri. It is pretty cool. This will probably be better, and I look forward to it. I don’t like the term iSheep. Siri works. It works well. Nobody is being brainwashed. Apple just makes good hardware and good software. I still really love my Android, though.

        • umopapisdn

          The term iSheep, in this case, isn’t meant to describe people like you.

          It’s meant to describe those who would prefer a cracked iPhone that was caked in mud to a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich and $1000 in cash simply because it doesn’t have an Apple logo on it.

          These types of people exist. They’re called iSheep. It doesn’t sound like you’re one of them.

  • myandroid99

    Can’t wait to see what it looks like, hope it will be better than siri and it probably will be

  • Vance

    I’m stoked to play with this! I’m also dreading the conversations with my uninformed iPhone toting friends who will say Google is just trying to copy iPhone. In reality, Siri was an improvement on Google’s Voice Actions (which I was using on my G1 back in the day) and Assistant will be an improvement on Siri, and so it goes.

  • Adryan maldonado

    I look forward to this. while i hate the fact that google only seems to be doing this in response to siri which i dont care for, since their original and still widely used voice search is more capable than siri and has been more capable than apples voice search. But what ever ill take it and probably use it and probably show it off. I wonder if they are going to appeal to the masses by making assistant curse at you and talk back to you like one other voice service i know….(looking at you siri)

    • westy

      Google has been working on this project for YEARS. They didnt just start working on it a year ago. Get it together

      • Rockstar323

        Yeah, I read an article a few years back that the whole point behind goog 411 was so they could use the users voice to improve their voice recognition software and help it recognize different regional accents.

    • thetruth

      Umm Siri isn’t just for voice search. And Google voice search does not do everything Siri does.

  • Si

    Isn’t this basically the same as what Wolfram|Alpha, TrueKnowledge and other services are doing?

    • Si

      My message was obviously aimed at Knowledge Graph (which this newspost apparently isn’t about)

      *shrug* That is what I get for posting inane nonsense when I should be sleeping.

      • NoRootNoFun

        Well, the embedded video is about knowledge graph, so why not talk about it? ;-)
        I thought exactly the same thing: “Oh, Google is going Wolfram Alpha”. I like the idea of Wolfram Alpha, but I never use it, probably just out of convenience. So if google gets similar features, that’s great.

        • WlfHart

          I used Wolfram all the time until they just went freemium…

  • BigCiX

    I’m actually looking foward for Majel.

  • thel0nerang3r

    Samsung has S-Voice, I wonder if they will include this in their phones.

    • Joshua Flowers

      S-Voice, by which they simply re-branded Vlingo :)
      download Vlingo & compare the two (interface)–it’s kind of surprising Vlingo hasn’t done/claimed infringement or anything about it yet.

      • JoeBlow

        That’s because Vlingo partnered with samsung for s-voice. They probably don’t want to sue themselves.

  • androidindia

    now this is what im talking about :)

  • Jayshmay

    I wonder if “Majel” will make it to the Galaxy S3???. . .

  • Jorge Branco

    This is exciting. Big possibilities

    • Jayshmay

      Yep!!! Perhaps it would be wise to hold off on the GSIII, and see what Google is doing with the next Nexus.

  • h0ruza

    …Ok please Google finish what you start, don’t play catch up, innovate instead and lastly.

    Cut my Milk! :)

    • Jayshmay

      What do you mean by “Cut my Milk!”???

      • h0ruza

        Its a Family Guy Quote.

        I see some have given me thumbs down which is cool but when you live outside of the US I see lots of Google products with excellent ideas but I don’t get to use them or like chrome it remains in Beta so you can’t complain when it crashes your phone once or twice a day.

        Still waiting for Google Music
        Still waiting for Google Voice
        and nothing seems to be done to a standard where you can rely on them.

        Do we need a Siri competitor? No that’s the wrong thing to copy…

        Try copying the way that iPhones work the same no matter what country your in.

        Once that’s done I’ll look forward to whatever Google want to trump up.

        I have no love for Apple I just want a better Google Apps experience which everyone should want surely?

        • benjclyde

          Living outside the US I know what you mean, but with a bit of simple work you can get Google Music work outside the US.

          • h0ruza

            So I hear but I shouldn’t have to hack my Google services to get equality however many months/years after they’ve been released in the US fully featured.

            So like I said Finish what you start Google… Please and once you’ve made a service global make it the best it can be.

            Then make something new.

          • umopapisdn


            The people working on new services and features are not the same people working on licensing deals and restrictions. The same even goes for translating languages.

            So, it’s not as easy as saying, “Stop working on new technical features and get back to work licensing Google Music for other countries and translating the interface.” They can do all of it at the same time and one doesn’t necessarily affect the other. They’re different job descriptions.

        • Joshua

          don’t forget Google Navigation for a lot of us as well…

  • impulse101

    Siri was just a gimmick that no one actually uses.. This on the other hand can be something that will actually be able to improve your experience.

  • AceoStar

    Am I the only one who is hoping for Active listening? I dont want to run the “Majel” app when I want to use it. I want my phone to sit on the table at dinner and activate anytime I address it by name.

    • Jayshmay

      That’s how S-Voice works, you just say “Hi Galaxy” and it wakes up.

    • squiddy20

      As cool as that sounds, I can’t help but think “Bye bye battery life”…

      • Richard Yarrell

        barf bag…

        • squiddy20

          How mature. Please, you sound just like my little cousins (about 8 years old). Time to grow up little Dicky! (And yes, pun DEFINITELY intended)
          Figures you’d be the one “trolling” me after continually insulting me about doing the same, only difference is, you can’t come up with anything better than these “insults” that really only show how childish you are. Congratulations.

          • NYC37

            I don’t know if you know this or not, but Richard Yarrell is what is known as “functionally retarded”. Honestly. I volunteer from time to time at the Bowery Mission where he works. He is harmless, he has the mind of a child. I’m not being funny or sarcastic, but you are actually making fun of a mentally handicapped person. I’ve seen him post on android websites, and I can understand how annoying he can be, but he doesn’t know any better.

    • NoRootNoFun

      Would be nice, but I also worry about battery life if my smartphone is always trying to recognize voice commands out of any background noise.

      What would probably help for me is a Pebble Smartwatch (yes, I ordered one) so I can activate the voice assistant by just pressing a button on my watch instead of picking up my smartphone, entering my password and starting the voice recognition app.

  • Nathan D.

    Very interested to see it at Google I/O if it does get shown over there.

  • jamal adam

    Google I/O can’t get here any faster. This is getting me more and more excited about the upcoming announcements and news ideas that Google will have in store for the world, come June 27th.

    • thetruth

      What they will have in store for the world? I know what it will be.

      An OS that won’t reach more than 5% of Android devices 6 months after release.

      Or maybe a BS program like the Upgrade Alliance that was obviously a lie.



  • ndub21

    I bet Google’s Android Assistant will blow Siri out of the water. I just hope they stay one step ahead of Apple so that the next version of Siri seems stupid compared to Android Assistant.

  • spazby

    awesome, can’t wait…

  • Noven

    I hope they make an easy way to talk to Majel. Without having to push any buttons to enable commands. Although this could cause some security issues and such with people around you messing with your phone. Would be cool it only recognized your voice.

    I’m sure that Majel won’t be a beta project either ;)

  • sota767

    I think Assistant being able to understand the context of your question instead of just keyword hunting is going to be an order of magnitude more powerful than anything seen yet. If your phone can comprehend the context of what you’re saying then you could drive the whole phone just by talking to it.

    And beyond that if the phone understands its own context (I’m an Android 4.0 phone, this model, located here, owned by so-and-so) in the world then isn’t that AI?

  • davo

    It would be great if the voice assistant could control the entire Android OS itself i.e. a completely voice controlled operating system, for example, one could say “Android open AngryBirds” => play angry birds. “Android who is my best friend?” => open most interactive “Contact”. “Android why is my life so boring!” => “You don’t interactive with your contacts in facebook enough?”

  • VS

    If they do have a live demo of this at I/O, I just hope Google brings in Sir Patrick Stewart to interact with Assistant via “Computer” queries. It would be priceless!

  • cthonctic

    If this is going easy on the whimsy factor and instead brings more substance to the table, then okay. If this is another gimmick like Siri and face unlock, they can keep it as far as I am concerned. Really not looking forward to talk at my phone unless there is a significant value add to doing so.

  • lilmoe

    why do blogs keep insisting that Majel is a “response”?

  • mmitchum

    Sweet! I was recently at a conference and got to hear a woman from IBM who worked with Watson (the computer system that was featured on Jeopardy). The way that she explained Watson working is very very similar to the description given here. The difference is that Watson had to be completely self contained (no Internet access) for “fairness”. Of course there are probably myriad other differences, but the concept is strikingly similar.

    Looking forward to this…

  • william

    I just hope it goes native, not requiring outside servers anymore…

  • DroidPower

    wonder how it’ll compare to S voice

  • lokesh chauhan

    Very good post i like it,, really

  • Ben 1.0

    For me, this will be absolutely perfect if Google are able to license the use of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s voice and have that as the voice of Assistant :)

  • Joshua

    this better be spectacular because I feel it is a little late to the show…