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Apple acquires AI firm that develops Alexa, Google Assistant skills
Apple wants to compete with leading voice assistants.
In an attempt to strengthen its AI capabilities, Apple has acquired a San Francisco-based AI startup called PullString. The firm is known for providing its expertise to companies to build conversational voice apps, reports Axios.
PullString was founded back in 2011 by former Pixar employees. The CEO, Oren Jacob is also the former chief technology officer for Pixar. Until now, the firm was known for providing the backbone behind voice systems for well-known toys like Mattell's talking Hello Barbie doll.
It's still unclear why Apple has taken over the AI firm. The Cupertino-based company has spent under $100 million for this deal. Beyond toys, PullString has also worked with major firms to develop skills for Amazon's Alexa platform and Google Assistant.
This could also mean that Apple might have acquired PullString to help accelerate the growth of Siri-powered apps and features, which will bring the voice assistant in direct competition with other major voice assistants.
Besides, Apple might also be planning to expand its TouchID and FaceID to automobiles. That's what the new patent suggests. The application was filed in 2017 but didn't appear until February 2019. The patent shows a "system and method for vehicle authorization" that will allow users to lock or unlock cars using technology like TouchID or FaceID. This could be done via an iPhone. The system would detect the user's device as they approach the vehicle.