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Apple wants to make the iPhone smarter without diving into your personal data

Apple Perceptio iPhone Siri Photos

Apple purchased one more company that will help it bring more intelligent features to its iPhone and iPad in the future, after confirming last week it bought British start-up VocalIQ that might help it boost the powers of Siri. The new acquisition will also likely be used to expand further the iPhone’s smart feature, with a massive trick. Unlike Google, which needs access to a treasure trove of personal data to enable cool Google Now and other automated features, Apple might not require access to that much information about the user.

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According to Bloomberg, the company bought Perceptio, a start-up that develops artificial intelligence (AI) tech. Perceptio’s take on AI is different than others’, as the enterprise can let users “run advanced artificial intelligence systems on smartphones without needing to share as much user data.”

Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone are the company’s leaders both working on developing image-recognition systems using deep learning. Perceptio uses deep learning to teach computers – in this case, future iPhones, and iPads – to identify and classify sensory input. The company has been developing techniques to run such advanced AI image-classification systems on smartphones “without having to draw from large external repositories of data,” as Bloomberg puts it.

Apple didn’t comment on why it purchased Perceptio or how much the AI company cost. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Apple spokesman Colin Johnson said.

Apple has often advertised user privacy and security as core features of iOS and OS X. At the same time, the company seems more interested than ever in improving the characteristics of its virtual assistant and other iOS features. The purchases of VocalIQ and Perceptio seem to indicate that Apple is simply going forward on that path, looking to find a way to improve the iPhone’s abilities significantly while still guarding the privacy of the user. It’s not clear what Perceptio’s tech will be used for, but Apple’s Siri and the Photos app might be direct beneficiaries from Apple’s latest purchase.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.