Apple Maintains a ‘Secret’ Office in Cambridge for Siri

Apple is maintaining a secret office which it uses to work on its AI-powered personal assistant, according to a new report from Business Insider.

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The secret laboratory is being used to develop Siri and help it become more talkable and human. The information comes from a source that apparently knows a number of Apple employees that work in the Cambridge office.

The Cambridge office apparently is home to less than 30 employees, many of which are part of VocalIQ, a voice recognition software startup that was acquired by Apple last year for a hefty $100 million. According to the source, Apple is planning on hiring a significant number of additional employees.

The only other known Apple office in the UK is located in London. However, the Cupertino company plans on relocating up to 1,400 employees into a newly purchased office in London in 2021. Apple also employs over 5,000 people in Ireland at its European headquarters.

VocalIQ’s software is designed to help computers and people speak to each other in a more natural dialogue. Unfortunately, the software has not yet found its way into Siri yet. “I think it’s extremely unlikely that [VocalIQ] is in Siri now,” the source said. “In fact, I’m pretty sure it isn’t. But obviously Apple have got it for a reason.”

“According to a source familiar with VocalIQ’s product, it’s much more robust and capable than Siri’s biggest competitors like Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana,” said analyst Steve Kovach. “In fact, it was so impressive that Apple bought VocalIQ before the company could finish and release its smartphone app. After the acquisition, Apple kept most of the VocalIQ team and let them work out of their Cambridge office and integrate the product into Siri.”

Recently, Siri has been deemed unsatisfactory when compared to other voice assistants, particularly Google’s latest in their Pixel smartphones. Will we see further enhancements from Siri next year?