The big boost to its personal assistant is said to come from Apple's acquisition of VocalIQ last year. The UK-based start-up created artificial-intelligence software that helps computers and people speak to each other in a more natural dialogue
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. In fact, it was so impressive that Apple bought VocalIQ before the company could finish and release its smartphone app. After the acquisition, Apple kept most of the VocalIQ team and let them work out of their Cambridge office and integrate the product into Siri.
Before getting acquired, VocalIQ tested their technology against Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. With a question like “Find a nearby Chinese restaurant with open parking and WiFi that’s kid-friendly” VocalIQ had a success rate over 90%. Google Now, Siri, and Cortana were only successful about 20% of the time, according to a source.
VocalIQ apparently recorded about 10,000 dialogues to help it learn how people talk. Even with so few queries, it was able to beat Siri that takes 1 billion queries a week.
Another big difference between VocalIQ and its competitors is the ability to remember context forever, just like a person. It can also filter out extraneous noise and learn to adapt to accents over time.
Apple is widely rumored to be working on a product that would compete with Amazon's Echo in the home. Some reports have speculated that the device could be a revised Apple TV where other reports have suggested that it may be more like a Bluetooth speaker or even have a camera for facial recognition.
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