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Apple earlier this year acquired artificial intelligence startup Vilynx with the aim of improving the Siri voice assistant built into Apple devices, reports Bloomberg.

vilynxacquisition.jpg

The Vilynx website is now defunct, but the company described itself as "AI for media," and it developed tools to help media companies compete against Netflix and other major media giants. Vilynx had a tool that catalogued raw video to make it searchable, providing metadata for video, text, and images. It processed video and then provided relevant content tags.

The service also generated rich, motion previews of content offerings, and provided search tools for surfacing content across videos, articles, and images. It also included an AI-powered recommendations platform while also offering tools to see trending topics on websites and social media.

Apple could potentially use the Vilynx technology to bolster Siri and other AI-based software on Apple devices, such as Photos. Apple paid about $50 million for the company, with the acquisition confirmed through Apple's traditional statement: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Vilynx's Barcelona office will continue to run under Apple, with Apple planning to turn it into a main AI research and development center in Europe. Approximately 50 Vilynx engineers and data scientists are remaining at Apple, and Apple is hiring additional engineers for the new office.

Apple has made several Siri-related purchases in recent years, acquiring Inductiv, Voysis, Xnor.ai, Turi, Tuplejump, and more.

Article Link: Apple Acquires AI Startup Vilynx to Improve Siri
 
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Digital Dude

macrumors 65816
Anything would be an improvement, so I remain hopeful. This week I asked Siri what the weather is for tomorrow. She responded with the definition of a crow. I have eight HomePods, so when I ask a question from a nearby Homepod, a distant Homepod answers. With multiple HomePods, this is now fairly typical behavior in my place. There was a time when the so-called ecosystem worked better.
 
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mtneer

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Sep 15, 2012
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I don’t think Siri has a technical shortcoming - it’s probably Apple’s cultural failing. Siri itself was more capable before Apple bought it. So buying and smothering another startup is not going to fix anything.
 
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MauiPa

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Apr 18, 2018
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“...and more”
Yep; another of many purchases to “improve Siri”.
Total improvement; 0.001% Main impact; removal of potential competition.
As one who uses both google and Siri. Siri is far superior for my needs. I do play fart sounds for toddlers on the googles though - the google mini do exceed Siri there.

I'm pretty sure haters don't actually use it. I would point out the last professional comparison ranked Siri and Google about even, google one because of shopping/. who the heck is going to shop by using a voice assistant? I downplayed that, I would never use it, and have been more than happy with Siri. Google has too many misses for me
 

nwcs

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Sep 21, 2009
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I think people forget that in Apple’s world Siri is not just the interactive voice operations. It encompasses any AI they do from app selection to automation to music lists and more. I think people keep expecting a change to the voice interaction without seeing the bigger picture.
 

MauiPa

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Apr 18, 2018
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" improving the Siri voice assistant" ?

Well damn, I sure haven't noticed any improvement....
then you haven't used it. Siri runs my HomePods, and appletv for well everything you would expect, I love adding scenes to the home app and running them with Siri. Google has better fart sounds for the toddlers though, I will admit that up front
 

MauiPa

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Apr 18, 2018
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Good news. Here's hoping the company who invented Genius could, I dunno, maybe incorporate some half-decent music/media recommendations into their subscription offerings?
Do you ever like and dislike songs? I presume you are referring to Apple Music. It works great for me. My only complaint is that I say, don't ever ever ever play any rap or country - Siri doesn't seem to get that. But she does not suggest any when I dislike all the rap songs and country crap that ever comes up in a play list or album
 
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AJKirksey

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Oct 27, 2020
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Do you ever like and dislike songs? I presume you are referring to Apple Music. It works great for me. My only complaint is that I say, don't ever ever ever play any rap or country - Siri doesn't seem to get that. But she does not suggest any when I dislike all the rap songs and country crap that ever comes up in a play list or album
I'm sure they are, my playlists were so bad at one point that I called Apple to see if there was a way to reset everything and redo my song selection. I enjoy Adele, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift as much as the next man but I was 4-5 seconds from setting fire to my phone after the tenth time they popped into a playlist.
 

Makosuke

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Aug 15, 2001
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I'm not a virtual assistant connoisseur, but I have been continually disappointed by the fact that Siri cannot properly respond to the query "Give me directions to my next appointment." (Or any variation thereof--I've tried many while driving just to make sure it wasn't a language processing failure.)

This seems like really fundamental function that you'd want to have working. You have an address book that Siri knows how to read. You can ask what your next appointment is, and Siri will answer. Those appointments can have locations associated with them. You can ask where your next appointment is, and Siri will tell you. You can ask Siri to give you directions to a specific or even general location ("home" or "the closest post office"), and Siri will start navigation to that place. Heck, if you open Maps, it will even say "Siri suggestions" and show the location of next appointment.

But if you ask for driving directions to your next appointment, which is exactly the sort of thing that is extremely useful to do while you're driving and don't want to have to stop and get your phone out to start navigation, it is impossible to get anything useful.

It's a query that by all rights should work, since Siri knows how to parse all the individual components and has all the information necessary, but no.

Basically, somebody on the Siri team was setting up "Give me directions to" targets, and still, after all these years, has not put "my next appointment" in as one of the available options. So instead Siri needs to decide whether to interpret the query as "Give me directions to [place that I can't find in a map search]" (so you get a useless response) or "[unnecessary filler] my next appointment." (so you get read the appointment but the request for directions is ignored).

It's more frustrating than anything to me when I know Siri has access to all the information I need but cannot synthesize an answer from it that should, programmatically, be very easy to generate. Nothing needs to be inferred, implied, guessed, or pulled from an outside source, and the syntax is simple, unambiguous, and works in other contexts. It is entirely the fault of the Siri team for not properly setting it up.
 
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