Notably, Viv Labs was founded by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham – three of the inventors of Siri itself. Apple bought Siri in 2010 before introducing it alongside the iPhone 4S in 2011.
Thickening the plot even further, it was reported back in May 2016 that Google and Facebook had both made offers for Viv Labs over the course of its years-long development cycle. So while we don’t know how much Samsung paid, we can assume it was competitive.
Apple has recently made a big bet on Siri, beefing up its intelligence and the number of outside apps it can access in the recent iOS 10 update for iPhone and iPad. Siri also recently made its debut on Mac with the new MacOS Sierra operating system.
But the real impetus may be Google’s heavy emphasis on its own Google Assistant for its home-built Pixel phones and other products, like Google Home. Google has had a virtual assistant in Android phones for several years now, but the company is talking up its Google Assistant as a massive leap forward.
Samsung, Apple’s top competitor and the number-one manufacturer of premium Android phones, is now making moves to compete with Apple and avoid getting outflanked by Google.
Viv Labs has long promised that Viv outpaces Siri by having a better understanding of context and situational awareness: You don’t need to tell Viv to pull up any particular app; asking it to book a hotel room automatically brings up Hotels.com. Plus, Viv isn’t limited to phones, and can be installed on everything from watches to smart fridges.
However, most people haven’t been able to get their hands on Viv. It was shown off at a TechCrunch Disrupt event in May, but still hasn’t been released to the general public.