Apple is reported to have paid $200m for an artificial intelligence (AI) startup called Turi.
Geekwire first reported that sources had confirmed the deal, but Apple and Turi have not made any public statement about the acquisition.
Turi’s website claims that its platform allows “developers and data people” to create real-time services and applications that use machine learning technology.
“Turi toolkits simplify the development of machine learning models. Each incorporates automatic feature engineering, model selection and machine learning visualisations specific to the application. There is no faster way to build performant [sic] models,” the website added.
Turi also claims that its services are in use in sectors including fraud detection, customer churn and sentiment analysis, probably on social media platforms.
The move for an AI player of this nature would be no surprise as Apple has lagged behind in this quickly evolving arena, especially as rivals Google, Microsoft and even Facebook are developing competing technologies, notably Google’s DeepMind division that has been playing Go with a tool dubbed AlphaGo.
Apple could well look to offer the company's third-party app developer ecosystem access to the services offered by Turi to help them build more functionality into the apps they provide customers, while Apple itself could use it to improve the iPhone's functionality, especially with Siri.
Siri is expected to get a major overhaul with the forthcoming iOS 10 launch, including the ability for developers to provide access to their services via Siri and allow voice control of apps.
Apple needs to find other ways to boost its revenue as sales of the iPhone have started to stagnate, although the new iPhone 7, which may be dubbed the iPhone 6SE according to some reports, could help reverse this decline.
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