IO 2012 Preview: Google Assistant- Google's Answer to All Your Questions

When we ask something, we want an immediate response. We want that answer as quickly as possible and we don't want to wait around for it. That is the generation we live in. Immediate results powered by a fast thinking digital revolution. Up until now just going to Google and searching for results or hitting the mic button to speak them was enough. We were given our links and we'd sift through them and find what we wanted, THE END. Even as easy as Google has made it though, to get the search results we need there are still better ways it seems to answer all of our questions.

For some, that answer is Siri. Since Siri's release, there have been more than a few copy cats to hit the Play Store, the first of which I remember was iris. "Hmmm.... Siri is popular. So let's make our app to do similar things and call it Iris. It's siri backwards. People will think hip and new." All jokes aside, this app was horrid. Nine times out of ten it never heard correctly what I said. So I always got results that were way off base when asking something. Perhaps it wasn't quite ready for the users. A few others came around and soon even one from nuance communications (which as you may or may not know, built Siri and sold it to Apple) called dragon go. This has been the closest I have seen come to Siri. Yet not quite there. Enter Google, and their dream for a star trek like computer that you can talk to and have it talk back. You can ask it something, nay! Anything, and it will be able to respond correctly, and intuitively, and perform the task that you give it. I give you Google Assistant (Project Majel).

As of currently, this is Google's baby. Their spearhead project inside of the new version of android 4.1 jelly bean we will see later this year. I like to think it will show up at I/O next week and that we will most certainly find it in our hands inside the nexus tablet. Some call me crazy. I like to hope that I can come back and ask my brand new nexus tablet to send a very smart ass message back to those people via Google Assistant just to say I told you so. Who's laughing now??!! For those of you who didn't know Google assistant existed, well, it does. Now is the time to get excited because if it works at all like they are planning then Siri will most certainly go down for the count. With Siri soon to have it's update for iOS6 here in the fall, Samsung's S voice and LG's competitor, Google is likely getting serious behind the whole voice assistant idea, and we will probably see something very soon. Say next week perhaps?

Before we get into a little more about Google Assistant, let's breakdown how it will be different from the others. What will make us want to use it more. How as android users can we get the same experience as Siri gives to iPhone users but only better? Well that's a question best saved for Google assistant, and when it's released you can come back to this one. Siri, S voice, and LG's version of the two are powered by wolfram alpha, which is an intelligent search engine that can gather just about any answer for you. That being said, wolfram alpha is just another search engine. It's an intelligent one yes, but still a search engine. So you can imagine how Siri and the others might come across their limitations. Now let's get into Google's voice assistant service they will be offering later this year codenamed Project Majel.

First off, this will not be powered by wolfram alpha like the others. It will be completely built from the ground up by Google. And unlike Siri and Apple, they are planning to extend the service to developers so they can improve upon it. The possibilities seem endless. So how will Majel work? Google calls the power behind this project "knowledge graph." Knowledge graph is Google's quest to make search more intelligent and in turn give us a voice assistant service that we can actually interact with like we were talking to another person. The goal for Google here is to make it so that you can ask Google Assistant a question, and that it will understand your query and the relationship between queries, ultimately giving you the results of the computer from the starship enterprise. I'd like to see Google work William Shatner into this somehow. Just to bring the project full circle. Now, the knowledge graph idea is that you can ask the assistant a question and it will understand the words that you are using and that you are using those words to ask about things that are objects, people, etc. in the real world. Essentially collecting information about these real world objects and handing them back to you as an answer like you were asking a person IN the real world. This will set in motion the transformation for Google to move from being a Search engine to becoming a knowledge engine. More accurately collecting the data and information we want and ask for, and relaying that information back to us.

This is brilliant by all means on Google's part. The knowledge graph even as a first phase is leaps and bounds ahead of Wolfram alpha which would make it a better solution than Siri. I could only imagine what it would be like in a more evolved state. The next matter of business should definitely be to apply a voice that is pleasing to listen to when you talk to it. The native TTS on android today is horrid. It sounds bad. The closest to making it more lifelike is the series of language and voice packs from SVOX that you can install alongside their own TTS engine app. Which I might add I have used and they do make the speech synthesis more bearable. Now aside from just answering your everyday questions, Google Assistant is supposed to help you DO things as well. Say you want to tell it to create a note. "Google Assistant, create a note for me to pick up milk and eggs at the store after work today." And BAM! It creates a note for you to remind you of your task. Past of this service is to help you accomplish real life goals. So we can expect it to be able to do some pretty amazing things. What do you guys think? Are you excited to hear more about Project Majel? We should be seeing some incarnation of this project at I/O next week. At least that's my prediction. Like I said earlier, maybe alongside a demonstration on the new Nexus tablet?  I can only hope.

"Google Assistant, Show me how to make the perfect German pancakes." That's my first important task.


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About the Author

Justin Diaz

Head Editor
Lover of food, craft beer, movies, travel, and all things tech. Video games have always been a passion of his due to their ability to tell incredible stories, and home automation tech is the next big interest, in large part because of the Philips Hue integration with Razer Chroma. Current Device: Google Pixel.