Apple quietly acquired Novauris Technologies, a company specializing in the automatic speech recognition field, which originally spun off from the team that developed Nuance's Dragon naturally speaking software.
TechCrunch reported that the Cupertino company actually bought up Novauris last year but the purchase was not publicly announced until now. Since last fall the team has been working to improve Siri, Apple's speech-based personal assistant.
Before being acquired the Novauris team was already working on its own large-vocabulary, automatic speech recognition technology to access information stored on mobile devices themselves or remote servers.
This same system is likely being integrated into Siri for an improved version we might see come with iOS 8 at WWDC 2014 this June 2.
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Apple later confirmed that it did purchase Novauris with TechCrunch. However, the iPhone maker also noted that it buys smaller technology companies from time to time but it had no interest in discussing the purpose or plans behind the acquisition.
What comes out of Apple bulking up its team of voice recognition experts remains uncertain, but it's becoming clear that Apple's virtual assistant is lagging behind the competition.
With Google Now on Android, and now Cortana, it's becoming plainly obvious a digital assistant needs to do more than understand a users voice command and reply with punchy one-liners. The software also needs to learn to adapt to your schedule and life style.
Google Now cards already predict information you need ahead of time such as commuting times and spotting restaurants around the corner.
Cortana, meanwhile, made its debut overshadowing Windows Phone 8.1 with its ability to plug into third-party apps – an ability Siri does not have.
What's more the "UNSC battle AI" from Halo will check back with your calendar and note any scheduling conflicts rather than listening and marking down every appointment without another thought. Cortana also let users set people reminders such as a note to ask about their sister's dog the next time she calls.
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