Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, has been given new leadership in what appears to be a bid to update the aging software. Responsibility for the program will now come under the purview of Apple’s Operating Systems Chief, Craig Federighi. Previously, Siri was controlled by the company’s VP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue. According to Reuters, the company refused to offer any explanation for the move, but as Siri is being embedded deeper and deeper into iOS and MacOS, overseen by Federighi, and can also control third-party apps, many believe the tech giant is attempting to combat advancements made by Amazon and Google. It is speculated that Cue is planning to oversee Apple’s purchase of a film lot, Culver Studios, as part of a battle with Netflix over a Jennifer Aniston drama, according to Phonearena. Apple’s expansion into entertainment has been reportedly supplied with a $1 billion budget, with Apple attempting to carve inroads into the television and film industries.
The change in management also comes months before Apple is set to release its answer to the Amazon Echo, the Apple Homepod, which will be largely voice controlled, as noted by Livemint. Siri was launched to much applause in 2011, but since then it has had to withstand the launch of rival after rival. Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby, have all challenged the limits of Siri to varying extents. For example, Bixby’s abilities outstrip Siri’s extensively, able to control granular details such as system settings.
CNET notes that the change in control appears to have been hinted at as early as June, when Federighi spoke at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, saying that Siri will be gaining deeper artificial intelligence capabilities. Developments in Siri’s AI have also been revealed in a study published on Apple’s website in July, which showed that deep learning, which is used to develop AI, is being used in Siri.
The move to develop Siri further is of critical importance for Apple, following the announcement that Alexa and Windows’ Cortana will be joined together. The Verge reported that Alexa users will be able to access Cortana via voice commands and vice versa. With Alexa often used to control smart home electronics and Cortana able to control the wildly popular Microsoft Office suite, Apple need to up Siri’s game to compete in the virtual assistant marketplace.
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