Apple just acquired a company that specializes in processing natural language requests – and that should mean holding a conversation with the Siri assistant is going to get a lot easier in the future.
The artificial intelligence startup is called Voysis, Bloomberg reports, and it was based in Dublin, Ireland. The outfit had been going since 2012 but will now be part of Apple.
Apple itself didn't have much to say about the deal, delivering the standard response to Bloomberg: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
It's not uncommon for Apple to pick up and absorb smaller tech firms – in November 2018 it got hold of a firm that worked on AI for smart home devices. In this case, it should have a direct impact on the apps that iPhone and Mac owners are using every day.
Voysis focused specifically on digital assistants inside shopping apps, so they could better respond to requests like "I need a new LED TV" and "my budget is $1,000", for example. That tech was then sold on to other companies.
Once Apple incorporates the AI processing into its own programs – with Siri presumably high on that list – you should be able to make requests and ask questions that are much more vague.
With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa continuing to improve and offer fierce competition for Siri, Apple knows that it can't let its digital assistant get left behind. We might see some of these improvements in time for the HomePod 2.
It's actually Apple's second acquisition in the space of a week: it also picked up popular weather app Dark Sky and promptly announced it would be shutting down the Android version of it.