Google reportedly developing rival to Apple Siri

Dubbed Google Assistant, task-oriented voice tech expected in Q4

Reports are circulating that Google is developing a voice assistant technology that would rival Apple's Siri.

Google is reported to be working on a task-oriented voice technology, dubbed Google Assistant, according to TechCrunch, which cited unnamed sources. Google Assistant is reportedly slated to be released in the fourth quarter of this year.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple's Siri, which launched as part of iPhone 4S in October, was designed to be an intelligent personal assistant. Using natural language, Siri is set up to answer questions, set reminder alarms, offer directions and make calls.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said Google is smart to come out with a Siri alternative, but the company should take care to make it a strong piece of software.

"Siri is a well-advertised iPhone feature and it appears to be pulling customers to that platform," added Enderle. "However, Siri is far from perfect and can be annoying... A Google alternative would need to be truly comparable and marketed as such."

By not launching its voice assistant until late this year, Google is giving Apple a chance to advance Siri far past where it is now. That means Google needs to focus on targeting where Siri will be, not where it is now.

Led by Google's Android team, the voice technology reportedly has been in the works for quite a while, according to TechCrunch.

With Google Assistant, the company is moving beyond returning search results and focusing on a task-oriented technology. Like Siri, the new voice assistant would need to be able to make notes, make calls and texts and other tasks.

Google reportedly also is planning to open up the technology to outside developers so they can build apps and Web sites that with work with Google Assistant.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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