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Is the Android Team Building a Siri Competitor Codenamed Majel?

According to our pals over at Android and Me, Google has spent much of the year putting in work on a newly revamped Voice Actions software, which they have codenamed Majel. You could consider this their answer to Apple’s Siri and will go far beyond what the current crop of Android Voice Actions can accomplish. The limits of specific commands (navigate to, listen to, etc.) will soon be gone and the times of speaking in natural language may be upon us.

Confused by the codename? The word Majel comes from the name of the woman who acted as the voice of the Federation Computer on Star Trek for years. And it just so happens that Matias Duarte (the ICS architect) mentioned Star Trek back in October around the time that Android 4.0 was unveiled. He was quoted as saying that their approach to voice actions “is more like Star Trek, right, starship Enterprise; every piece of computing surface, everything is voice-aware. It’s not that there’s a personality, it doesn’t have a name, it’s just Computer.” Fitting.

It’s anyone’s guess as to when we might see this new voice activated software, but there is a chance it could be out within the next couple of months. If Google wants to step into the voice actions game in a real way, it would be in their best interest to not wait around while Apple works to take Siri out of beta.

Is everyone ready to start talking to your phone like it’s your best friend?

Via:  Android and Me

  • Anonymous

    No one uses Siri. 

    • Bionic

      I used my friends and I told it to “suck my dickk”  and it gave me results for “gentemans clubs in your area”  LOL LOL

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25001493 Hank Godwin

        God I hate you.

        • Bionic

          and thats ok, cuz jesus loves you

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, I hope this is just rubbish news - Android doesn’t need a siri competitor – Droids are doing just fine as they are.  apple can’t keep up and is falling behind.  I mean really, the 4s is that great – why?  What improvements?  siri?  Really?  

  • tjmonkey15

    What phone is that in the picture?  It looks pretty nice.

    • Anonymous

       think it came out a week or so ago – the name escapes me.

    • http://twitter.com/Skitz_Marz Alex Gandero

      Samsung Unicorn

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Goldblatt/707820579 Aaron Goldblatt

      It’s photo-shopped. This kind of phone does not exist and will most probably never see the light of day.

  • Anonymous

    So, does it make me an uber-nerd if, upon only reading the headline and not yet the article, I said to myself, “hey, Majel is the name of the actress who voiced the Star Trek computer.”

  • Dan Brown

    I’ve been using Jeannie for a while, it’s pretty impressive!
    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.pannous.voice.actions.free&hl=en

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Goldblatt/707820579 Aaron Goldblatt

      Very impressive indeed!

  • Anonymous

    countdown to patent lawsuit begins

  • Kiteless

    “It’s not that there’s a personality, it doesn’t have a name, it’s just Computer.” Fitting.” – Sounds awesome. I would love to eventually be able to naturally talk to my phone and ask it for things. Same thing with my computer. Can’t wait to see what they come up with. 

  • Roshan John

    The important thing here is that Google isn’t trying to come out with a Siri-like personal assistant with a personality bent on deeming your human to phone ‘relationship’ as magical and emotional. 
    Google is going about it totally differently, simply making voice commands better. Making every aspect of your phone, voice aware. 
    I say this is far less gimmicky and far more useful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000155987673 Austin Mutschler

    I have heard a lot of rumors about why the Galaxy Nexus was
    delayed and they are all wrong. This is what actually happened…

     

    (1 Month Ago)

     

    Verizon: Hey Google. We found a couple problems with your
    phone, the Nexus Prime.

    Google: Actually we are calling it the Galaxy Nexus now but
    okay what’s the problem.

    Verizon: Oh crap someone tell Best Buy to change that… But
    anyways we were playing with the device and we seemed to notice that there are
    no Verizon apps on the phone.

    Google: Well this is because it is our Nexus device. It
    should be free of bloat ware.

    Verizon: Oh well we did you a favor and added My Verizon and
    VZ Backup on it for you. No need to thank us. Well we also noticed that it
    doesn’t say Verizon anywhere on the device.

    Google: Well that’s because it is a Nexus and has the Google
    branding on it.

    Verizon: Well we did you a favor and added our logo and our
    4g logo on it for you. People will see 4g and Verizon and instantly buy. Also I
    think you gave us a defective device because the screen was curved a little at
    the bottom.

    Google: That is the way it is supposed to be. It is supposed
    to be different.

    Verizon: So what your saying is there is no way to fix that?

    Google: It doesn’t need to be fixed. That’s how it is
    supposed to BE!

    Verizon: Well with such a close release date we can’t fix it
    anyways so our customers will just have to deal with it. We also say that you
    guys are going to be allowing our customers to use Google Wallet.

    Google: Yes Google Wallet will be a great marketing point
    over the iPhone.

    Verizon: Well I am sorry to inform you we want you to take
    it off.

    Google: WHY???

    Verizon: Because we already have a service that won’t come
    out for another year that does the same thing. We get more money for everyone
    that uses it so we don’t want any competition.

    Google: THAT’S IT. YOU GUYS HAVE CROSSED THE LINE IF YOU DON’T
    LET US PUT GOOGLE WALET ON OUR PHONE WE WON’T LET YOU RELEASE IT.

    Verizon: Fine we have plenty of time to wait…

    • QtDL

      Yup. That’s probably pretty accurate on how the conversation went. Enter FCC at the end of that conversation….

  • Bob marvin

    Majel open car door. “right away sir/mam”
    Siri open car door. “i dont understand “

    • Anonymous

      Actually, with the ADK and proper access provided to car functions through a manufacturer-exposed API, Majel could theoretically do a lot more than that. 

      But, at the same time, the manufacturer could also just develop an app directly for iOS, and assuming Apple exposes an API to Siri at some point (which is likely), it could do the same thing. In fact, they’d probably do it for Apple first, despite Android marketshare, because you know Apple is so much cooler :-/ 

      Come to think of it, I’m kinda surprised no one like BMW etc. has done full car-as-accessory integration like that yet (sans Siri)…

      • Steve Martin

        well there actually already is an android app that allows you to use your phone to lock, unlock, and even start a car which obviously needs onstar since theres not really any other way to communicate with a car. and I wouldn’t say Iphone is cooler then android but that could also be because I’m older then 10 and actually know more about my phone other then how to turn it on and push the call button. Iphone may have the ability to use the phone to lock and unlock cars using your voice first or they may not. but either way you look at it Google will take the idea and improve it  with technology at least 5 years ahead of Iphone. Like they do with everything. Including the voice recognition which has just been released on Iphone has been on android for about 2 years.

        • Anonymous

          More fandroid ignorance…..

          The iPhone has had voice recognition since the 3GS was released in 2009…..to try and label Siri as simple “voice recognition” is the height of ignorance….something that I’ve grown accustomed to with fandroids…

          And btw, what happened to Almighty Andy’s declaration that “people shouldn’t be talking to their phones”??? I guess the strategy is to bash it for as long as it takes to copy it. So “Google” of him….

          • Steve Martin

            So you mean the third or fourth Iphone was the first to receive voice recognition? What I’m saying is that the first Android ever released had voice recognition. But after a year it went from being popular to not a big deal. Now android users only use voice recognition to call people without having to go through their contacts or for the gps or music. Theres really no reason to use voice recognition as a toy which Siri basically is. But because of how popular Siri is to the Isheep then I guess Google feels like if they release a similar app then it will become popular to android users. But most Android users are over the age of 10 and might use Majel for a few months but I’m sure after a year Majel will just be another app that is used like once every few months. except for the basic commands.

          • Anonymous

            “So you mean the third or fourth Iphone was the first to receive voice recognition? What I’m saying is that the first Android ever released had voice recognition.”

            No that’s NOT what you were saying….THIS is what you said:

            “Including the voice recognition which has JUST BEEN realeased on iPhone has been on android for about 2 years.”

            In typical ignorant fandroid fashion, you were attempting to suggest that prior to Siri, the iPhone had NO voice recognition, when in fact it has been on the iPhone for 2 1/2 years….

            I know this is a fandroid site so most of your ignorant statements will go largely unchallenged, but try and do just a little research next time…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/camsco1 Scott Greene

    If Google could pull off fluctuation in the tone of voice to detect punctuation, like Microsoft is starting to develop, that would be really cool and lightyears ahead of Siri.

  • Interstellarmind

    what a touching tribute to the tv show that brought us cell phones, and tablet pcs

  • jason6g

    i kinda like saying “text lisa ill be home shortly need anything while im out” to actually say something like “send a text to my good friend with dark hair, lisa…” might be kinda wierd and too human for a droid lol

  • Interstellarmind

    yeah, google has me sold on it from the name alone. I WILL LOVE IT if it remains named “majel”

  • http://twitter.com/jamdev12 jamdev12
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RXI3EWZKV75ZJUDNB36QI5UYSI Emmanuel M

    Am I the only one who see’s through Apple’s marketing scheme?  Siri doesn’t actually do very much more than Android’s voice commands, it just reads stuff back to you in addition.  Unless they make major upgrades it will fizzle out in 6 months.

  • http://twitter.com/jamdev12 jamdev12

    Once again why does Google do this? Why say one thing like Andy stated in AllThingsD a few months ago about talking to a phone and then make an app that you can directly talk to your phone? Do you remember in the 90s when DragonSpeakEasy came out? I remember people speaking to their computers at work, dictating what the computer should do and what it should type and that got old quick. The last thing I need to hear is people talking to computers as if they were real people. I’m glad that crap died quick back then, but it seems we still can’t figure out that the last thing we need at work is some distracting idiot speaking to a computer while everyone else does their work quietly. I hope not because Siri is such an irritanting gimmick by a perpetrator of gimmicks and will only get worst until people are screaming at other people for talking to a phone instead of talking into one.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think this is really designed to be a Siri replacement, article notwithstanding. I think Google is just recognizing that Voice Actions can be a little prohibitive to all but power users who memorize the exact commands, and they want to make Voice Actions more accessible by allowing natural language instead. Basically, instead of just “Send message, Joe, hey i’m on my way” you could say “Send message to Joe that says hey i’m on my way” and it would work properly.

      In other words, I don’t think they are expanding the scope of Actions, at least not by much; they are just improving it to further ensure it works as intended.

    • mike

      Just so you know, Dragon and programs like it are still widely used in the medical field.  Most large practices and hospitals use these programs.  Transcriptionists are becoming far and few between and being replaced by “Correctionists”, which basically is listening to the recording of the dictation and ensuring that the program understood the doctor correctly.

  • Eric Kwan

    I don’t know a single iPhone 4S owner who uses Siri for anything other than novelty or “look what I can do with my iPhone” purposes. Do we really need “an answer” to this useless feature?

  • Chris Badalucco

    dont try and answer siri. innovate as you know how…

    oh and tell verizon to give me my FLIPPIN G-NEX ALREADY

  • http://twitter.com/Skitz_Marz Alex Gandero

    I guess its good that they’ve been working on this all year (before siri was released) but since it’s coming out after, iFans are going to think Android stole the idea

  • Anthony Vella

    Well boys and girls, on the side note, expect this new lawsuit to hit soon, “Apple files against Google for copyrighting voice recognition”

  • http://www.facebook.com/camsco1 Scott Greene

    Is the picture shown just what Voice Actions look like in ICS? It looks different from GB… haven’t seen it before.

    • http://www.facebook.com/camsco1 Scott Greene

      Also, if they made this open source, I can imagine we’d be seeing a GLaDOS voice pack very shortly afterwards :)

      • Bewara2009

        hehe you made a reply bk to yourself.. 

  • Anonymous

    You : “Computer, when will Verizon finally release the new Nexus?”

    Majel: “It will be released as soon as the backlog of Droid Razrs is sold out. By the way, the upcoming Verizon Galaxy device is not really a Nexus.”

    • Anonymous

      Computer, initiate beam to Verizon backroom stock on my mark.
       

      • http://thisisjohncoffey.com GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}™

        The computer can’t do that. You gotta radio the transporter room to do that. {{-_-}}

        • Anonymous

          Actually it can, there are several episodes where they give a command to the computer to do site to site transport both on planets and on the ship. For example when Ferengi pirates had taken over the ship, it was one of the way Picard trapped them. 

      • EC8CH

        was that in a Picard voice?

        If so, it’s pronounced COM-PEW-TA

  • http://twitter.com/wesleynile Wes Nile

    Even non-gnex posts are gnex posts.  Le sigh.

    • Nick S

      u new bro?

  • BK

    Of this feature, I care not.

  • Cyrusthevirus

    Google just bought the company who develops Alfred. I think that acquisition might be more related to this project than to Google Places as the company claimed.

  • Russ

    My phone is my best friend and I already talk to it. It will be great when it can talk back to me. I won’t feel so lonely anymore.

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, Majel Barrett-Roddenbery is not in a position to contribute anything to this project directly but it would be amazing if her voice could be replicated for this.  I think it’s iconic.

    • EC8CH

      i like how you used the word “replicated”

    • Anonymous

      There’s a tricorder app in the market!

      • Pfigurella

        Yes, and it is the absolute bleeding edge of Trek-Geekdom.  Or almost any geekdom.  I’ve had it for more than a year.

  • Corey Morreale

    since the arrow to the knee..this will come in handy.

  • Bewara2009

    I might ask some personal questions to Majel :D

  • Mark

    Just hope it’s not as cheezy as Siri. That would get old fast unless you’re 14. I have, however, enjoyed the fact that my OG Droid has always had voice actions that actually work for searches etc, much to the chagrin of my friends easily swayed by the *phone marketing.

    • Nintendo

      The more you compare Google Voice Actions to Siri the dumber you look. They are not the same thing. It’s like saying i don’t need Google Maps with turn by turn voice directions i have a map i printed from MapQuest. Give Apple credit where it is due and hope Google comes up with something better.  

      • Anonymous

        Finally a fandroid with a brain….

      • Mark

        A typical 14 year old response. READ before you jump to conclusions. No one said it’s the same thing. I DID say that for SEARCH, the good ol’ OG Droid performs better than the spiffy new Siri with its cheezy preprogrammed responses. That has been reported in many honest reviews of Siri, and has been my personal observation as well. When my excited iFanboy friends wanted to show off their new phones, simple search commands like “find pizza near me,” or “Mangia Bene Pizza in Greatneck, NY” failed, or took several attempts, whereas my Droid instantly came up with a list, with the option to click places, map, directions etc. Head to head, I always came up with the location faster. Siri (like all Apple “inventions”) is an over-hyped piece of software that doesn’t “always work,” and is merely an evolution of existing technology. For the things it does that are the same as voice actions, it doesn’t perform any better than what we already have. In fact, when Siri can’t find something, it defaults to……. Google search!!! Yes, there are many extra things that Siri does, but that has nothing to do with my previous post. Both systems are evolving (not only from this article, but also here: http://searchengineland.com/google-buys-clever-sense-an-answer-to-siri-104593). The point that you missed, is that somehow I’ve been able to do voice searches that work for over 2 years without the magical help of Siri.

  • http://twitter.com/merrillgrady Merrill Grady

    I’m not sure if I’m prepared to pay an extra $20 per month so I can have wireless beaming to the Enterprise. But if it’s a free feature then I’m down.

    • Anonymous

      You can root and sideload the beaming app.

  • GNex

    Omg siriously?

    • Emilio Figueroa

      I see what you did there. 

  • Anonymous

    first question i’m going to ask is when the nexus for verizon is coming out. god knows that majel might come first.

  • http://twitter.com/italfox4 Fox

    omg i just creamed myself. Please use her voice too!

  • Desamation

    Dear Google…….Tell Verizon that before I can have my Majel, I MUST HAVE MY NEXUS!!!!!

    • Anonymous

      No no no… thats… Phone. Tell Verizon to give me my nexus. Plus I want a tea, earl grey, hot. 

  • Steen Kendle

    slow computer

  • Anonymous

    Coming 2012: Nexus PADD.

    Coming 2013: a 3 way lawsuit between Apple, Google and Gene Roddenberry’s estate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Emaw-Kennedy/504157652 Michael Emaw Kennedy

    Android and Me would be troll of the week if this isnt true. if it is though I’m all for it!

    • http://twitter.com/wimbet Taylor Wimberly

      The source that gave me this info is an old timer. I trust them or I wouldn’t have posted it.

  • Steen Kendle

    First

  • BiGMERF

    They have to tread a thin line to avoid a lawsuit! lmao, j/k.. But bring it on, im all for it.. love siri

  • EC8CH

    I don’t always talk to my computer, but when I do…

    I do it with a Picard Voice.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Tim-o-tato

      As our friend would say - 

      “Slow day as an engineer?” :P

      • EC8CH

        call me 
        Geordi

        • Anonymous

          Scotty >>>>> Geordi

          • Anonymous

            Scotty was a fat loser (except in the new movie where he rocks). Geordi was able to not only run engineering, but also to run a show about reading all while being a blind guy.

    • Anonymous

      Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

      • Anonymous

        That’s some natural language right there. Haha!

      • Anonymous

        Omg that’s my favorite memory of picard! Straight up englishman, even in space.

        • EC8CH

          Picard was from France

          • Anonymous

            I see what you you did there. The truth hurts. 

          • Anonymous

            I meant the actor, patrick steward

    • Anonymous

      lol Ahh there you are, CONGRATS MAN, atleast one of us “Old Timers” won something here on DL, I hope Kellex will pick me on this one LOL

      • EC8CH

        thanks man… I’ll be rooting for you!

        • Anonymous

          LOL, I am glad you won it was about time :) I thought you were opening up your new toy today and didn’t have time for us losers LOL

          • EC8CH

            I checked just to see if you won!

            Sorry Bro, but you got 8 more chances.

          • Anonymous

            LMAO, Thanks man I am on it ready for day 3 :)

      • Anonymous

        It’s about time I see you win something on here. 

        • Anonymous

          @cizzlen, You too man you’ve been on DL for sometime as well lol C’mon Kellex your faithful DL Old Timers need a win lol

    • http://thisisjohncoffey.com GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}™

      Kirk > Picard. {{-_-}}

      • EC8CH

        Maybe… but and you prove Kirk uses Android?

  • Blood

    This is going to die like siri died and google voice actions died. 

    • Anonymous

       I use “navigate to” all the time. I just don’t need all the added flashy aspects.

      • Emilio Figueroa

        I like the call, “State business name here, then location” feature. It’s so useful, especially when i can do it with once click and not have to hold down that home button for 5 seconds. Get’s things done more quickly.

  • Anonymous

    Majel Barrett was the creator. Gene Roddenberry’s wife. In addition to voicing the computer she also played Nurse Chapel in the original Trek, and Lwaxana Troi in ST:TNG. Yes, I’m a star trek nerd and I love Majel Barrett. Great code name for the software.

    • Anonymous

      oh Snap I remember her! She was always flirting with jean-luc picard. Lol omg I’m a trekky.
      But voyager was my show, yes I’m gay but I loved kate mulgrew. She’s a real lady.

      • Anonymous

        Best Star Trek moment ever: At the convention last year she walked out on stage with Bill Shatner, who promptly pinched her ass. *insert nerd look of shame here*

    • Anonymous

      I keep saying that along with speech recognition, why not AI where you can actually teach your device to know your contacts and meetings etc..

      Siri and other speech technology like Nuance is coming closer and closer to doing more and what better way the AI technology to really interact with our devices.

    • http://twitter.com/keridel James Bricknell

      Brilliant name for any project. and i hope (pray actually) that they licence her voice for it :)

      • Jim Davis

        She’s dead, so I don’t think that will happen.

        • Anonymous

          She might be dead but they have hundreds of hours of sound clips and voice overs done for 5 different star trek shows. I think that’s more then enough data to create a workable interface. I too am waaaaay to much much of a Star Trek Nerd. 

          • http://twitter.com/MrBouche MrBouche

            I like your optimism and I think it would be BEYOND awesome to hear her voice but usually when people work off of the clips, the intonation sounds a bit wonky.  Maybe they can find someone with a similar voice.  Maybe they can rename it to Pickard and get Patrick Stewart to voice it.   I would totally say “make it so” more often if that happened. ;)

          • http://www.facebook.com/TJHRULZ tjhrulz

            I hope that it understands nerdy references and has nerdy comebacks, it would make it that much better. Maybe even some google style easter eggs

          • http://twitter.com/MrBouche MrBouche

            That would be awesome.  :)

        • BionicCommando4231

          Damn..I didnt know she was dead.
          :(

          Star Trek invented everything. Not apple. Picard had a tablet 25 yrs ago.

          • Anonymous

            They had tablets in 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as a voice controlled computer; that movie came out in 1968. The original Star Trek was in 1966, but I don’t know when which tech came out in that series. We’ll call it a draw.

            In any case, Apple didn’t invent anything.

          • http://www.facebook.com/TJHRULZ tjhrulz

            I’m sorry Droid, I’m afraid I can’t do that

          • Anonymous

            Droid, navigate to 5 Guys.

            Without your car keys, Dave, you might find that rather difficult.

          • http://www.facebook.com/TJHRULZ tjhrulz

            But I REALLY want to go!

          • Anonymous

            With your cholesterol level, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.

          • http://www.elementary-project.com Kevin McDole

            Luckily, for Star Trek Online they recorded like 4,000+ different variations of saying letters and phonetics in the English language, so that they could make her say anything they want in the game. So it’s still a possibility.

    • FortitudineVincimus

      TMI dude

  • Mark Wilk

    Majel, open the pod bay doors!

    • http://www.getintonursing.com/ Jon

      Majel, where is Dr. Crusher? 

  • http://profiles.google.com/j450n79 J450N M

    If i have to look at another pic of the Gnex and not have that phone in my hands im gonna go into a VZW strore and throw a chair 

    • Anonymous

      Do something more productive and hit a XYBoard with a hammer.

  • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

    I’d call it GlaDOS.

    Valve ftw.

  • Dan

    I dont care what anybody says, Siri is pretty dope. Would be nice to have something similar

    • BiGMERF

      I like it too… !

    • Tim242

      We already do. One of them is called Speaktoit Assistant. These voice things are gimmicky…the novelty wears off fast.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11207006 Marcus Kent

        Speaktoit is not the same as Siri.  I have both.  And trust me, it doesnt even come close lol

        • Tim242

          I’ve used both…they are virtually identical…same voice and all. They both are silly junk.

          • Anonymous

            Does SpeakToIt have geolocation capabilities?

          • Tim242

            Yes.

          • Dominick DeVito

            downloaded and tried it – works well, thanks

          • Anonymous

            Absolutely

      • Anonymous

        This. I tried a few of these apps for Android, and they worked fine; I just never used them after the initial 5 minutes. It would be nice to have this integrated into the OS for those that use them, but it probably won’t affect me beyond maybe a half hour of playing with it.

    • Anonymous

      I had a chance to test out Siri for a while this weekend. A friend of mine got an iPhone to hold her over until I show her the Galaxy Nexus in a couple days.

      While the iPhone did not live up to the hype, Siri worked pretty darn good.

      I tested it by giving it many different scenarios. There are things it does very well and others where it misses by far. But things like “remind me about my 3:00 dentist appointment next thursday” works great. It seemed to have to think about it for about a minute, but eventually got it right by telling me it set up an appointment and asking me if it was correct.

      It does very well with setting appointments and reminders and stuff like that. I could speak in every day language and it could sift out the important data and offer a solution.

      Now it did seem to take a while to do these things and you could probably do it quicker on your own. But it was cool.

      I guess there is a place for these types of features. I imagine it would work even better if on a 4g network. It seemed pretty hobbled on the 3g network.

      • http://www.facebook.com/glenn.szeman Glenn Szeman

        I agree…Siri was pretty sweet. I’m hoping that something similar gets created soon for Android. I’m getting old and need reminders!

        I was with a friend at work, and she told Siri to remind her to stop at PetSmart when she left work. We pulled out of the parking lot and Siri says “Don’t forget to go to PetSmart”. I’ve been trying to get Speaktoit to do the same…and all I get is “Do you want me to save your note to memory or to evernote?”…not really the reminder that I am looking for!

        • Anonymous

          That is awesome!  I would love to have that ability!

  • EC8CH

    If the voice is the same as the Star Trek TNG computer, this is soooooo winning!

  • TROLOLOL

    Look at that… a Galaxy Nexus…

    • Anonymous

      trollololololol