Apple nabs Google’s top A.I. exec to make Siri smarter

Apple hired away a top Google executive who could make Siri smarter.
Apple hired away a top Google executive who could make Siri smarter.
Image: brittany herbert/mashable

Apple just took a very important step toward improving its AI capabilities.

The company hired Google’s top AI exec, John Giannandrea, to lead Apple’s artificial intelligence strategy, The New York Times reports.

It’s not clear what specific projects the longtime Google veteran will be focused on, but it’s safe to say Siri will play a central role in the company’s future AI strategy. 

Critics have long held that Apple has lagged behind competitors when it comes to its AI capabilities, and nowhere is this more evident than in Siri. Though Apple’s assistant has gradually improved over the years, it’s still noticeably less advanced than Google and Amazon’s digital assistants. 

For example, while Google Assistant and Alexa both boast thousands of third-party developer integrations, Apple still only allows specific types of apps to integrate with Siri. 

Apple’s Siri-enabled HomePod speaker has also been widely criticized for its lackluster digital assistant. (The Information reported last month Apple didn’t even originally plan to put Siri in its smart speaker until Amazon launched its first Echo.)

But with Giannandrea at the helm, Apple might finally have a shot at turning that narrative around. 

Giannandrea will now report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. In a note to employees reported by the Times, Cook said, “John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.”

Google Brain co-founder Jeff Dean will step in to Giannandrea’s former role leading AI at the search giant.

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