Google doesn't like to be one-upped by Apple, but by any account that's sort of what happened when the Siri voice recognition platform was introduced. The technology, currently available only on the iPhone 4S, is likely to be heading to other impending Apple devices and is already one of the big trends to watch in 2012. Google wants a piece of that action.
The search giant is planning on beefing up its voice-centric technologies to launch a full-fledged Siri rival. Called Google Assistant, it has three ambitious tasks - pack in as much information as possible, make the presentation or output of data as personalized as possible, and use those elements to create an algorithm that goes beyond a "search engine" look and feel.
It's the last part that could set Assistant apart from Siri. Siri's goal is to answer questions and perform system functions. So you can find out where the nearest McDonald's is, or schedule a meeting on your iPhone calendar. However, it doesn't really have a social component. If you truly boil it down, Siri is just a new search engine interface and an iPhone control interface. For what it is, it's pretty awesome.
But Google wants to open Assistant up to third-party developers that could create all kinds of new applications and ideas. The company is calling Assisant a "do engine" as opposed to a search engine, with the task of helping users accomplish real-life goals. Details are still just unfolding but Assistant should be a real product by the end of the year.