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Apple patents for multiuser support for its smart assistant Siri
Apple wants to make Siri smarter.
According to Apple's new patent, the firm might be working on adding multiuser support to Siri. First revealed by Apple Insider, the patent shows ways Siri could use to identify specific users by matching their speech to a pre-registered profile.
It's still unclear how this might work, but the patent clearly mentions "voice print" and "biometric information." Regardless of how the company implements this feature, there are many potential benefits of multiuser in terms of privacy and convenience.
Multiuser support will let Siri provide custom information and responses to various users based on past actions, similar to the suggested content seen on iTunes or Netflix. The patent also suggests that the new Siri will be able to use past user interactions to create a library of information for each specific user.
That being said, multiuser support could be a great help to improve the smart assistant. Unfortunately for Apple fanatics, Siri has lagged behind Google and Amazon's smart assistants in terms of accuracy. This is quite disappointing considering Siri was the most well-known smart assistant.
Another major benefit from the new feature will be the privacy. Multiuser support could, for example, bar Siri from reading a user's text messages without the authorization of the specific users.
This doesn't seem like a major issue for smartphones since they tend to be locked and used by a single person. However, shared devices like the Home Pod faces problems when any authorized user can have the owner's texts read out loud.
For now, we only have the patent, which doesn't necessarily mean Apple is working on the system. Companies often file patents for various technologies and products even if they never turn them into reality.
In April, Apple also hired John Giannandrea, Google's former head of search and artificial intelligence. Giannandrea is a machine learning expert who became a part of Google back in 2010, will be of great use to Apple which has struggled to make huge advancements in the AI department like computer vision and natural language processing. The NYT report also says that Giannandrea will report directly to CEO Tim Cook as the leader of "machine learning and AI strategy."
Currently, both Google and Facebook are powerhouses when talking about AI, followed by Amazon and Microsoft. Both firms have employed hundreds of researchers working across different domains that frequently publishes substantive papers that help inform internal products and the collective AI research community at large.
Apple, although was one of the first companies to pave way for voice-based digital assistants with Siri, it really never had the research data nor the resources to approach AI development as its rivals. Siri still remains a hot topic for jokes due to its lack of sophistication. Google Assistant is far ahead when it comes to quality levels, as it uses the same algorithms that power Google Translate and Google Image search. Siri also lags behind Amazon's Alexa which is currently the leader in the smart home industry.