Siri is one of Apple’s most important features, with the digital personal assistant present not just on iOS devices, but now on Macs, the Apple Watch, and the company’s first smart speaker, the HomePod.
So, as a rule, Apple continues to try and improve Siri, with the latest bump in features and more coming with the arrival of iOS 11. But the work continues. As reported by TechCrunch, Apple has “acqui-hired” the artificial intelligence team at Init.ai. Recently, the company announced that it would be discontinuing its services, because it was “joining a project that touches the lives of countless people across the world.” As it turns out, the meaning of that phrase is that the team was joining the Apple ranks.
From the report:
“They are becoming a part of the group working on Siri, Apple’s own personal assistant that uses voice-based commands and natural language to answer questions, control your phone and more.
To be clear, this is not a straight acquisition, but more of an acqui-hire, so Apple didn’t have a comment to offer along the lines of the one it made last week. Specifically, there is no IP coming over and no indication of whether any parts of its existing services will be used by Apple, and no existing customers. It’s not known exactly how many of the Init.ai team are joining Apple but the startup was not very big — just six people, according to LinkedIn, including co-founders Keith Brisson, Will Dawoodi, Kyle DeTella and Trevor McNaughton.”
As noted above, this is not an acquisition. Apple is not gaining any intellectual property here, and Apple does not appear to be using any of Init.ai’s current services. The Init.ai team is simply moving over to work on Apple’s Siri. How many people will be joining Apple remains unknown, but there were only six team members on Init.ai to start, so there isn’t a large pool to choose from.