Home Media Apple Acquires Laserlike, an AI News Startup

Apple Acquires Laserlike, an AI News Startup

The Information recently released a report that revealed the purchase of Laserlike by Apple, in an effort to boost the learning ability of its Siri AI assistant.

Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino released a statement confirming:

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Laserlike owned an application, which is currently not available on either Google Play or Apple Store, that leveraged artificial intelligence in providing users with an individualized “interest search engine” that looks for content associated with what users care about.

Laserlike is an AI-based startup that was established by ex-Google engineers and allows users to keep track of news on several topics.

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The acquisition makes a lot of sense since Apple is said to be rolling out its news subscription service, particularly at an event scheduled to be held on March 25th.

Laserlike is well-known for its artificial intelligence efforts, which could be helpful to Apple, as the company recently increased its focus in artificial intelligence by recruiting John Giannandrea from Google.

Currently, Giannandrea is spearheading Apple’s machine learning and artificial intelligence projects including Siri.

The technology from Laserlike could assist Siri in recommending news topics depending on your personal interest in applications like the TV app, Apple Music, or Apple News.

Laserlike was established four years ago by several ex-Google engineers, including Steven Baker, Srinivasan Venkatachary, and Anand Shukla.

The application was developed to build an individualized “interest search engine” that showed users video, web, and news just to mention a few.

Following Apple’s purchase, Laserlike claims on its site that it plans to maintain the personalization element at its core:

This is one of the things we want to fix on the Internet. Laserlike’s core mission is to deliver high-quality information and diverse perspectives on any topic from the entire web. We are passionate about helping people follow their interests and engage with new perspectives.

Last year, Mozilla adopted Laserlike’s technology for a ‘Test Pilot’ Firefox add-on, which produced suggestions of websites that you should visit based on your browsing habits.

“Laserlike’s core mission is to deliver high-quality information and diverse perspectives on any topic from the entire web,” the now-defunct startup’s mission statement reads.

“We are passionate about helping people follow their interests and engage with new perspectives.”

Several sources told The Information that the team from Laserlike has joined the AI group that was recently formed by Apple under the leadership of John Giannandrea, who was promoted to the post of senior vice president in December after he was recruited from Google in 2018.

Laserlike’s technology will undeniably be utilized in improving Siri, which has been struggling to compete with the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.

The artificial intelligence (AI) could be incorporated into the company’s soon-to-be-rolled out news and TV subscription service, recommending the things that users should see and read by taking their current habits and interests into consideration.

In the past few months, Apple has purchased several artificial intelligence startups.

In 2018, the company acquired privacy-based artificial intelligence outfit Silk Labs before purchasing Hello Barbie voice technology outfit PullString back in February.

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KC Cheung
KC Cheung has over 18 years experience in the technology industry including media, payments, and software and has a keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and its applications in business. Over the years he has worked with some of the leading technology companies, building and growing dynamic teams in a fast moving international environment.
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