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Siri could soon threaten Assistant reign as Google AI head joins Apple

Apple nabs Google's John Giannandrea to bolster its machine learning and AI strategy division while increasing Siri-related hires.

Published onApril 4, 2018

  • Apple has hired Google’s former head of search and artificial intelligence John Giannandrea.
  • Mr. Giannandrea left his post with Google on April 2 and joined Apple April 3.
  • Apple has been steadily increasing its Siri workforce as it faces off against Google Assistant.

Apple has hired John Giannandrea, Google’s former head of search and artificial intelligence. According to The New York Times, Mr. Giannandrea has been hired to run Apple’s machine learning and AI strategy and will report directly to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook.

The New York Times article states that, during his time at Google, Mr. Giannandrea helped to integrate AI into many of the company’s products including internet search, Gmail, and Google Assistant. He originally joined the company after Google bought startup Metaweb, where he acted as Chief Technolgy Officer, in 2010.

During his tenure, Google became widely renowned as one of the AI industry leaders. Despite releasing its Siri personal assistant in April 2011 — more than a year before Google launched Google Now — Apple is thought to lag behind its major rival.

According to hiring data tracked by Thinknum, Apple has been increasing the number of people it is hiring to work on its AI products lately. The company is said to have 161 Siri-related jobs listed as of March 27 this year compared to 82 on March 27 last year.

Mr. Giannandrea left his position at Google on April 2. Upon leaving, Google announced that it would be splitting his role into two positions. This will leave the AI division to be led by Jeff Dean, the co-founder of Google Brain, while Ben Gomes, the former Vice President of Search at the company, will run the search division.

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Google has played a significant part in bringing AI to Android phones over the years. However, more recently, many Android manufacturers have been trying to integrate AI features of their own into phones they make.

In recent months, we have seen LG introduce Q Lens and other AI features to the V30S ThinQ, HUAWEI add algorithms to its Mate 10 Pro that micromanage camera settings, and ASUS bring a host of features to its Zenphone 5 range that the brand is calling AI (though where it counts as AI is disputed). Additionally, Samsung has been making improvements to its Bixby personal assistant that it originally released last year on the Galaxy S8.