Apple reportedly beefing up in-house voice team in Boston, hopefully for a better Siri regardless of Nuance

Apple reportedly beefing up in-house voice team in Boston, hopefully for a better Siri regardless of Nuance

Apple has reportedly put together a team of voice parsing specialists in Boston, including former Nuance employees, which has led to some speculation that Apple is looking to roll their own engine for Siri. Google did this from the beginning with Google Now, and the power and flexibility that gave them is often thought to be one of the reasons for it being better, faster, and more localized than Apple's Nuance relationship allows. According to Xcomomy:

Fittingly, the current Boston-area Apple speech team all once worked at VoiceSignal Technologies, a speech software company that was purchased for $293 million by Burlington, MA-based Nuance in 2007.

That includes Gunnar Evermann, Larry Gillick, and Don McAllastar, and notably Apple is apparently letting them all stay in Boston instead of relocating them to HQ in Cupertino.

Architecturally, Apple could certainly replace Nuance with their own voice parsing engine. Practically, Nuance owns so many patents in the area, and is so insanely, obliterating-ly litigious about them, that it could be annoying and expensive for Apple to roll their own. In other words, Nuance's practice of buying, suing - or both - competitors out of the space makes their ingestion or removal painful. Of course, Apple has so much money, they can suck up a lot of pain if they choose to.

The alternative is that this team, in Boston, where Nuance is, is working on making Siri work better with the existing Nuance engine. Or, perhaps both.

Either way, Google is far ahead in this area, and with natural language and voice a critical part of the future of human interface, it's something Apple has to be paying attention to, and putting considerable resources behind.

Looks like they're doing that. Hopefully we'll see the results in device-side processing, and better, faster, more reliable querying. I mean, how's Siri working for you lately?

Source: Xcomomy via 9to5Mac

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Cut the Rope updated with Cheese Box episode, new characters too!

Next up →

Without Haswell, why bother buying a new Mac?

Reader comments

Apple reportedly beefing up in-house voice team in Boston, hopefully for a better Siri regardless of Nuance


Q: "Siri, where can I pahk my cah?"
A: "I'm really sorry about this. But I can't take any requests right now. Please try later."

Boston... where loosing your khakis means you can't start your car... everywhere else, you can't find your pants... :)

Siri for me has been doing horrible mainly on speech to txt. Will put words that sound nothing like I said leave out words. Put a word w a blue line and even I click on it it suggests the word I said makes no sense. Siri Is vry behind in my opinion.

Sent from the iMore App

Is it just me or is dictation in the app (little microphone next to the space bar on the keyboard) way snappier and more accurate than siri for you too? Is this the same or different technology?

Siri/dictation works about 60%~70% of the time. Otherwise, it's the waiting for response circle or dots. Grade C for such a company as Apple, IMO.

Hardly ever use Siri. Anything they can do to make it more intuitive and make it connect its tentacles to the apps in the phone is great news for me. Not many to insult anyone but I am not interested in sporting games scores. And I use Fandango or Flixster for movie times. I think it boils down to my accent. You Bostonians think you have a hard time try having a Bajan (Barbados) accent. Google is better with my accent I must admit.

Sent from the iMore App