Google could be cooking up a new voice assistant designed to out-Siri Siri.
The company is said to have a new system in the works, dubbed "Assistant", designed to help people complete tasks by voice. And if Google's plans come together, Assistant could debut in the fourth quarter, according to TechCrunch.
Citing information from a source, TechCrunch said that the search giant would control all of the layers involved in Assistant. But Google would let third-party developers tap into the system to create their own unique apps, a marked contrast from Apple's Siri, which is a closed environment, and off limits to outside developers.
Google has been working with language technology for a number of years. The new project would reportedly be led by an Android team working with Google engineer Amit Singhal, who has a background in speech technology.
Assistant would follow Siri's lead by offering a "mobile, voice-centred 'Do engine'" to help users accomplish specific goals, rather than just deliver search results, the source told TechCrunch. But it would also employ the full power of Google by putting the "world's knowledge into a format a computer can understand", and "create a personalisation layer" to learn how people work with content.
There's been no word yet on whether Google's Assistant is the same system as Majel, a voice project that had been rumoured to debut early this year. But TechCrunch did note that Assistant is not part of the Google X labs, as was Majel.
More specific details are sparse at this point, and even TechCrunch acknowledged that it could be "missing a huge piece of this puzzle". A Google representative told CNET that the company declined to comment.
Google presently offers a Voice Actions app that can accomplish a variety of tasks.
Even the Dolphin Browser recently added voice capabilities to its Android app.
But Google may feel that it hasn't yet reached the holy grail of voice assistants — something that will shake up the market and create the kind of buzz that Siri has managed to generate. The company is also playing catch-up with Apple. Recent reports say that Apple could unveil Siri for both the iPad 3 and Apple TV at its iPad event on 7 March.