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Report: Apple just bought an AI startup to make Siri better

Apple AI, Siri

Apple doesn’t just invent things in its labs in Cupertino. The company also buys companies with impressive frequency — five so far this year. Actually, make that six, because Apple just picked up a significant Seattle-based artificial intelligence outfit, Turi.

The news comes in a report from GeekWire, which heard about the deal through sources. Neither Apple nor Turi is confirming right now, although Apple is famously tight-lipped about these kinds of deals. The acquisition is rumored to be worth more than $100 million.

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That’s barely a dent in Apple’s hundreds of billions of cash, but it’s also not pocket change. Why would Apple spend so heavily on a company most people haven’t heard of?

Turi is a startup based in Seattle that focuses on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Those are hot topics right now, and AI looks like it will form the backbone of big software projects for the next decade. Apple has already begun building machine learning into macOS and iOS, Siri has finally come to the desktop, and machine learning and AI are core components behind autonomous cars. Suffice to say, it’s a popular industry right now.

Apple’s acquisition could have two aims: to steal Turi’s envious engineering talent, or to incorporate some of the startup’s work into upcoming Apple projects. The reality is likely a mix of the two, but we’re unlikely to find out exactly how and why this deal went down for a while.