A Google voice search service to rival that of Apple's Siri is rumoured to be announced by the company at this week's I/O conference.
The Google-powered smartphone operating system is used on a number of handsets and has already proven to be a great success. However, introducing a voice assistant would see it take a step up in its competition against Apple and the iPhone.
Siri is the iPhone's virtual assistant which allows users to phrase questions in a human manner. The program then searches the internet and Apple's services to find the best answer for the user. The Google version is likely to provide similar services but, given that it should theoretically have access to Google's search capabilities, it could end up being far more comprehensive than Siri.
The product has been given the code name of Majel and its update is likely to bring in significant changes. A number of Android-operated handsets, including Samsung and HTC devices, already have voice-activated personal assistant functions but they are a long way from standing up to Apple's offering.
A Google program, on the other hand, could prove to be a real game changer if the company manages to make the most of its assets and search abilities. Not only would such a release help to alter the smartphone market, but it is also likely to start to change search engine optimisation (SEO) if it takes off due to the different way in which users search with voice-operated programs.
When Apple's Siri was released there was a shift towards including location in SEO campaigns. Users were increasingly searching for casual phrases such as 'find me a restaurant near Soho' and businesses needed to be visible in the answers returned. This trend could well increase, along with a tendency to include more human language and longer keywords and phrases in website copy in order to adapt SEO to new search trends.