First and foremost, the good news – Apple is hiring!
We all know that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was the first to start the Artificial Intelligence, aka AI, race with Siri. However, in the last few years other tech giants, especially Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL)), have taken a lead by penetrating the market with many other promising AI enabled devices. The changed equation has apparently forced Apple to revisit its strategy to promptly position Siri in the market. In a concerted attempt to make Siri smarter, Apple is going on a major hiring spree with Siri-related positions. The company is inviting engineers skilled in Machine Learning (ML), NLP, AI and more around the globe.
According to Thinknum, a data analysis firm, the number of open positions that contain the term ‘Siri’ has accelerated in recent weeks. Reportedly, the Cupertino giant appears to be at an all-time high with 161 Job listings related to Siri on Saturday alone. While the hiring trend steadily up-scaled since summer 2016, the last month has seen a sharp 24% spike in openings.
Out of 161, 125 openings are based in Apple’s new headquarters in Santa Clara Valley in the United States, while 10 openings are based in Cambridge. The rest are divided among San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai, Ottawa, Munich, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore and Madrid.
The vast majority of positions are for Software Engineers; 154 precisely. Among specific skills that are required include Machine Learning (ML), Infrastructure Engineers, and Natural Language Processing (NLP).
The hiring trend has shown a significant upward trajectory shortly after the launch of Apple’s smart speakers, HomePod. Apple launched its digital assistant for iPhones in 2011 before deploying it in other Apple products, including Mac computers, iPad, iPod and the recently launched HomePod. But Apple has been under fire due to Siri’s lagging intelligence. Its limited skill set and frequent struggles in understanding spoken instructions have raised concern for Apple and left users frustrated.
Is Apple Siri Stuck in The Past?
People are gradually becoming aware of how AI is growing in importance and has the potential to dominate the future world. Apple gained a head-start by introducing the first AI digital assistant into the market. Siri cleared the air over the need for a digital assistant. Other big shots like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung all have poured heavy investments in AI.
It leads us to think that despite being the early adopter of AI technology why is Apple trailing today?
The oft-criticized digital assistant from Apple is missing the mark when compared to rivals – like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana – who all seem to get better with time. There is no denying that the tech powering the device, Siri, lags far behind its AI cousins Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
Siri’s performance on the recently launched smart speakers from Apple, HomePod, was below par. According to a Study by Loup Ventures, a Newyork based investment firm, Siri could correctly answer just 52.3% of 782 standardized questions. In competition, Google Home, Amazon Echo and Cortana answered 81%, 64%, 57%, respectively, of questions correctly. Apple Siri handled music playback requests with ease (thanks to Apple Music integration) but appeared weak in questions related to navigation and general knowledge.
It’s unusual to think, is Apple may be facing trouble on the innovation turf or the competition has evolved better with time?
Among the companies who embody the spirit of Silicon Valley, Apple looms large.
Apple clearly hopes that a new recruit of engineers can assuage the condition; evident reason for the hiring spike. Based on the recruitment drive alone it’s hard to tell what exactly Apple has planned in terms of innovation and improvement in Siri, and what changes can the new hires bring about. But Apple is likely to refine its focus on Siri like never before. Perhaps, it is just a matter of time when they break out and come roaring back to life.