It looks like Apple is planning a huge upgrade for Siri, one that will see the voice assistant surge ahead of rivals Google Now, Microsoft's Cortana, and Alexa, the AI behind Amazon Echo. Apple acquired U.K.-based speech processing startup VocalIQ last year, and will be integrating the advances made by the company in processing natural language queries and machine learning into Siri.


According to Business Insider:

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 Apple bought the company, VocalIQ tested its product against Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, and the results were impressive. VocalIQ's success rate was over 90%, while Google Now, Siri, and Cortana were only successful about 20% of the time, according to one source.

VocalIQ's platform is also malleable enough to be programmed for anything you want to do. One example a source gave was teaching it to successfully manage email while a user's phone was in their pocket. In theory, Apple would be able to train Siri to do everything much better using VocalIQ.

VocalIQ uses machine learning to provide context to queries, with the AI able to understand a follow-up question to a previous query. The technology can also be used for voice-controlled in-car applications, and VocalIQ may find its way into Apple's car platform as well. We should hear more about what's in store for Siri at WWDC 2016.