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Apple said to be planning big Siri upgrade to take on Google Now

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Apple is said to be planning a major Siri overhaul as it looks to compete with more intelligent virtual assistants like Google Now and Amazon Alexa. The company will reportedly use technology it acquired last year when it snapped up VocalIQ.

“According to a source familiar with VocalIQ’s product, it’s much more robust and capable than Siri’s biggest competitors like Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana,” reports Business Insider. “In fact, it was so impressive that Apple bought VocalIQ before the company could finish and release its smartphone app.”

Following the acquisition, Apple is said to have kept most of VocalIQ’s staff, which continue to work out of an office in Cambridge, England. It’s thought the team have been hard at work integrating their technology into Siri.

The report adds that VocalIQ is more intelligent than rivals like Google Now, and is able to handle complicated requests more efficiently. The assistant can even complete commands like, “Find a nearby Chinese restaurant with open parking and WiFi that’s kid-friendly.”

During tests in which VocalIQ, Google Now, Siri, and Cortana were asked a bunch of complex questions like this one, the technology had a 90 percent success rate. The others were only able to complete the requests around 20 percent of the time, sources say.

BI says VocalIQ is somewhat similar to Hound, another third-party assistant that’s available on iPhone. However, unlike Hound, which can only handle one session at a time, VocalIQ remembers context forever, “just like a human can.”

“VocalIQ’s platform is also malleable enough to be programmed for anything you want to do,” the report adds. “One example a source gave was teaching it to successfully manage email while a user’s phone was in their pocket.”

It’s still not clear when Apple plans to bring this technology to Siri, but one source says it is likely to happen gradually over a period of time. It is claimed that this will be Apple’s answer to more intelligent Siri rivals, like the new Google Assistant that’s coming this fall.

Recent reports have claimed the Cupertino company is also hard at work on another Amazon Alexa competitor that could be integrated into Apple TV. Details on that are scarce, but if it happens, it will almost certainly use a newer, more capable version of Siri.

This service could be announced at WWDC next month, according to one report, so perhaps we’ll find out more about VocalIQ — and what Apple has been doing with it — then.


Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...

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