There’s a new executive in charge of Apple’s AI assistant, Siri.
But the update also revealed a shift in the executive who’s leading Siri, which is widely seen as one of Apple’s key technologies. Now Apple’s Siri efforts are being led by software SVP Craig Federighi, instead of online services SVP Eddy Cue, who had previously led its development, according to official corporate bios.
“Craig oversees the development of iOS, macOS, and Siri. His teams are responsible for delivering the software at the heart of Apple’s innovative products, including the user interface, applications and frameworks,” according to Federighi’s bio.
The change highlights the increasing importance of AI and so-called intelligent assistants like Siri as the top tech companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook all ramp up their own efforts. Earlier this week Microsoft and Amazon announced plans to let their respective intelligent assistants, Cortana and Alexa, talk to each other. And many observers believe that the emerging crop of voice-based assistants could become the next platform for personal computing.
Siri’s many bosses
Apple bought Siri in 2010, for an estimated price of around $200 million, and it first debuted on the iPhone 4S in 2011. When the Siri team was first integrated into Apple, it was under the domain of Scott Forstall, who led the software development for the iPhone and iPad until he left Apple in 2012.
A Siri co-founder left Apple around that time and started a competitor, Viv, which was eventually bought by Samsung.
A line about overseeing Siri was removed from Cue’s bio. He was described as the executive in charge of the Siri group in a Backchannel story from last August.
This is the second major project that’s been taken off of Cue’s plate. For many years, Cue was a dealmaker for iTunes and other content and online services, but in the CEO Tim Cook era, his responsibilities expanded to overseeing software groups as well, including Apple Maps and Apple Music.
But in 2015, he stopped overseeing Apple’s App Store, a big platform that drives many of Apple’s services revenue, which totalled $7.3 billion for the last quarter. Now that’s headed up by marketing SVP Phil Schiller.
Siri is a difficult engineering project, one that requires regular software updates and massive infrastructure expertise, two aspects of technology that have not historically been seen as Apple’s strengths. Early adopters were often frustrated with Siri’s shortcomings. But Apple has improved Siri with new advances in machine learning and AI over the past few years.
MacRumors reports that the transition from Cue to Federighi “has been apparent for several months,” as Federighi was the executive who revealed new Siri improvements at Apple’s most recent annual developer’s conference.
Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.