It wasn’t an individual product or service that stole the spotlight at Google I/O this year, but rather an idea. As Android continues to proliferate throughout the world, Google wants to find intelligent ways for mobile devices to interact with users, and from everything we’ve seen thus far, the company is on the right track.
Although Apple is crushing everyone in its path with new sales records year after year, it has often struggled to compete with Google, Amazon and others when it comes to machine learning and predictive behavior. Now, based on key findings from Reuters, it looks like the company is doing everything in its power to get up to speed.
After reviewing hiring sites and speaking with credible sources, Reuters has learned that Apple is hiring dozens of new employees to add to its artificial intelligence division. Machine learning, which gives mobile devices the ability to adapt to their users by learning their preferences and habits, is part of Apple’s blueprint for the future of iOS, but there’s one big issue:
In order to learn how to provide mobile users with information before they ask for it, the devices need to know a lot about the users and a lot about the world around the users. That means unprecedented access to user information, which has been one of the key selling points for the iPhone and iPad over the past several years.
“They want to make a phone that responds to you very quickly without knowledge of the rest of the world,” said Joseph Gonzalez, co-founder of machine learning startup Dato, tells Reuters. “It’s harder to do that.”
Apple announced iOS 9 at WWDC 2015 earlier this summer, but on Wednesday, we’ll see everything that the latest operating system update has to offer. As the invite hinted two weeks ago, Siri will presumably play an important role in the event, which will likely include some of the advancements we’ve already seen from Android.
This time, it’s Apple’s turn to catch up.
“In the past, Apple has not been at the vanguard of machine learning and cutting edge artificial intelligence work, but that is rapidly changing,” Oren Etzioni, who is CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, said. “They are after the best and the brightest, just like everybody else.”
When asked for comment, an Apple spokeswoman told Reuters to refer back to senior VP Craig Federighi’s statement from WWDC, when he said iOS 9 would be “adding intelligence throughout the user experience in a way that enhances how you use your device but without compromising your privacy, things like improving the apps that you use most.”
We’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see exactly what Federighi meant.