Many people criticize Apple’s voice-based assistant since Siri tends to run into problems on the iPhone and other devices. Some even worry that Apple might have a tough time combating Google’s artificial intelligence, and even potentially face a fate similar to BlackBerry in the event that its AI can’t compete. But it turns out that Apple is working on an advanced AI product of its own, which could be unveiled in the very near future.
After a recent report said that Siri APIs will be open to third-party developers and a Siri-based competitor for Amazon Echo will be unveiled at WWDC 2016, a new story delves into Apple’s highly secretive AI research and development plans.
Writing on Medium, Brian Roemmele reminds us that Apple is very interested in voice-based computing – a Steve Jobs legacy – and in AI. Through a combination of in-house development and smart investments, Apple could offer a powerful AI experience without having had as much time as Google or Facebook to train its virtual assistant.
Roemmele calls Apple’s next voice-based computing experience Siri2, adding that he’s very certain Apple will call it something else.
In his Medium post, he reminds us that “Jobs felt very strongly about the Voice First world, perhaps more then [sic] he felt about the Mobile First and the PC Revolution.” It was Jobs who insisted on the purchase of the company that created Siri, a technology that evolved over the years.
Some members of the original Siri team may have left Apple to create Viv, which appears to be a formidable voice assistant looking for a platform to call home. But others remained at Apple and continued their work.
“Tom Gruber, one of the original team members and the chief scientist that created Siri technology, stayed on and continued his work. During most of 2016 and 2017 we will begin to see the results of this work,” he writes.
Another interesting acquisition that Roemmele details is VocalIQ, an AI company from the UK that Apple purchased last October – we wrote about it at that time. The technology VocalIQ offers would bring the smart AI features that Siri lacks to Apple hardware.
VocalIQ worked on “the world’s first self-learning dialogue API?” that would enable “real, natural conversation between people and their devices,” the company explained on its website in 2014, well before the Apple deal. Furthermore, this voice-based AI tech can be integrated into other apps, according to the company – just recently, a report said that developers will finally be allowed to use Siri in their apps, and VocalIQ might play a role in that.
On top of that, there are other AI-related purchases that could also help Apple upgrade Siri with advanced features, including Perceptio, Emollient and Emotient.