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Apple’s newly acquired company to transform Siri into HAL9000

Apple Siri VocalIQ Purchase

In iOS 9, Apple made Siri even smarter by giving its voice-based virtual assistant additional powers to aid iPhone and iPad owners. But Apple isn’t stopping there, as the company apparently plans to improve the quality of Siri in future updates, both when it comes to understanding human speech and predicting the user’s needs.

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Late last week, The Financial Times reported that Apple purchased a U.K.-based startup called VocalIQ that makes artificial intelligence software for processing natural language.

It’s not known how much Apple paid for the VocalIQ, and the iPhone maker gave the Times the same familiar statement it offers every time it buys other companies. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the company said about the purchase.

VocalIQ technology will likely be used to improve Siri’s ability to understand human speech. The startup also has technology that would let apps learn more about the user, the kind of technology that would make Siri an even better Google Now and Cortana rival.

While it’ll be a while before Siri can actually develop HAL9000-like powers, the virtual assistant is widely deployed in Apple’s ecosystem. Siri is currently available on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, and it’s likely it’ll be incorporated in future Apple products, including a future Apple car.

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.