Her: When a relationship with a female operating system gets out of hand.

Google has not only introduced its new talking digital helper to consumers, it has broken the tech tradition of giving such "assistants" female names and voices, it was reported on Thursday (19 May).

Google kicked off its major I/O developer conference by unveiling a new voice-powered digital assistant, along with plans to use the assistant to power a hardware device similar to that of Amazon's Echo program.

However, the latest character in the world of talking digital helpers is simply named the gender-neutral "Google assistant," and apparently won't be joining the girls' club of Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana.

In the intriguing 2013 film Her, nerd Theodore Twombly - played by Joaquin Phoenix - falls in love with his female phone computer operating system, Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson (though becomes upset when he realizes she's having simultaneous "affairs" with another billion guys).

Google's decision not to find some perky name for its assistants baffled many, who worried that they would be unable to make a "connection" with the digital pseudo persona.

But others praised the decision. The Guardian -who oddly made the assistant sound positively male by calling it the "ultimate digital butler" - carefully noted: "Perhaps with an eye towards modern politics, Google declined to give its personal aide a gendered name."

While hailing the name, Seth Fiegerman of Mashable noted that it may be less a politically correct gender-neutral consideration on the company's part, but more a drive to continue to connect consumers to the name Google - rather than to a minor new digital character - and maintain brand continuity.

"Whether we have a name or not, we think of this as Google," Scott Huffman, a vice president of engineering, told Mashable.