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Apple picks up Novauris to brush up Siri’s skills

Apple is serious about honing voice assistant Siri, and has snapped up Novauris to help it do so.

Novauris, which originally had its roots in voice experts Dragon Systems, works on ASR or automatic speech recognition, and was brought on board in a stealth move last year, according to TechCrunch. Its team members are now actively working on enhancing Siri's skillset.

TechCrunch didn't manage to unearth any figures for the deal, but it did get a kind of confirmation of the move from Cupertino, given that the statement delivered wasn't the usual boilerplate no comment/denial.

The company said: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

However, the co-founder of Novauris, Melvyn Hunt, confirmed that his team now work for Apple.

Apple has previously tried to buy up Nuance, the outfit whose speech recognition tech powers Siri, but has been unsuccessful – so Cupertino is perhaps looking to get more control in-house over the development of its voice assistant. Further speech tech acquisitions could be on the cards...

Last week, Microsoft unveiled Cortana, Windows Phone's answer to Siri, with Redmond having put a lot of work into ensuring its assistant can learn a wider range of semantics, and deliver a more natural voice assistant experience as a result. Apple obviously won't want Siri looking remotely lacking in any comparison.