Remember when that Google executive compared iOS’ Siri voice control implementation to the bumbling droids of Star Wars, and Android’s voice input to the Enterprise’s computer on Star Trek? Someone in Mountain View took that analogy quite literally. Android and Me quotes insiders that say Google is preparing a natural language update to Android’s Voice Actions feature, and they’ve codenamed it Majel, after the late great Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.

The actress is best known as the voice of the Enterprise’s computer from Star Trek: The Next Generation onward, and has had small parts in almost every Star Trek series all the way back to the original pilot. In 1969 she married Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and became known as “the First Lady of Star Trek” for her spirited involvement with the series and its fans for almost 40 years. If Google really is basing natural language input around the ideas in TNG, they may have chosen the perfect homage to a geek icon.

Majel Barret as Nurse Chapel, opposite DeForest “Bones” Kelley

While details are scarce, insiders claim that Google’s software engineers are working around the clock to prepare Majel for a release this year. That may or may not happen, but an unveiling in Q1 2012 would be a good fall-back position. Whether or not Google can match Apple’s progress on Siri is a subject for debate; natural language additions to Google’s voice recognition engine have not done well so far. See Iris and Cluzee. But on the other hand, no one has brought the resources and talent to the problem that Google has – not even Apple, who essentially bought the technology whole and plugged it into the iPhone 4S. As for me, I’ll be ecstatic if I can finally command my Android phone like an actual starship: “Computer, navigate to Sears. Engage.”


  1. Hasn’t anyone else noticed the new voice one sounding very much like majel barret when using google navigation?  They enabled it a long time ago and you only hear it on occasion and it says generic things such as “take the next right” followed by the very computerized “in 800 ft take turn right”.  I think you also on exits, e.g., “take the next exit”, followed by the computerized specific “Take Exit 4b”.  I started noticing it awhile back as I mentioned and figure they were going more toward the “natural speaking”, this was way before siri, and was surprised that they chose the star trek voice as I had thought you was dead (which she is).

    I dunno about you but getting a majel barret sounding voice/helper or even a gladOS would be pretty sweet.  Or how about a nice C-3PO voice or cyclon IL series (the one with the sparkly pointed heads who were such smooth talkers) or twiggy! bede bede bede “ok buck!” hehe.

  2. lol 🙂 Majel sounds cool, but Samsung should never copy Siri  …it
    should have some thing extraordinary than just Siri ( Which is more like
    chat BOT), i have used
    (myBantu) a awesome mobile app for personalized recommendation engine
    with great utility of Social intelligence. If Samsung tries out some
    thing like myBantu it will definitely revolutionizes the way mobile is
    been ever used!

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