RSS
Google's secret voice-assistant project: A Siri killer?
Later this year, Android smartphones will reportedly start boasting a robotic assistant that can talk its way through Gmail and Google Maps
Two Android smartphones: Google is reportedly launching a voice-activated assistant to take on Apple's Siri.
Two Android smartphones: Google is reportedly launching a voice-activated assistant to take on Apple's Siri.
James Leynse/Corbis
A

ndroid smartphones are about to get more chummy. To take on Siri, Apple's popular virtual assistant, Google is reportedly working on a Siri clone of its own, set to debut in the fourth quarter. While Android devices can already handle voice commands (a dramatically undersold feature), the new project, simply dubbed "Assistant," would be integrated into apps and websites like Gmail and YouTube. Will this help Google catch Apple?

Quite possibly: The "beauty" of Android devices is that "Google products simply work better on its own OS [than they do] on an iPhone," says Christine DesMarais at PC World. Just think of all the Google products you use daily: Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Docs, and more. If Google's new artificially intelligent assistant seamlessly lets you talk your way through all those features, then Android may very well "squash" Apple's Siri.
"Google 'Assistant' reportedly will surpass Siri"

And Siri certainly isn't perfect: "Apple's Siri is a runaway success," says Surojit Chatterjee at the International Business Times. But it has a few glaring weaknesses that Google would be wise to counteract. For instance, Apple's helper takes far too long "to retrieve and push results to the user." If Google can make a product that "removes the feeling of talking to a lifeless robot" while offering speedy (and relevant) help, then Assistant could usurp the "voice recognition crown." 
"Will Google Assistant work better than Siri?"

But how will Google make money from Assistant? "Google has wanted to emulate the talking computer on Star Trek since long before Siri appeared," says Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land. But in doing so, it's abandoning a super-profitable business model. When you search on Google, you get results surrounded by ads. If you can suddenly bypass that ad exposure by simply talking to Assistant, how will Google make money? That's an "innovator's dilemma" that Google will have to overcome for this to be a true success.
"Google faces "innovator's dilemma" as it prepares response to Siri"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week