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iOS 8 Siri could rival Cortana thanks to Apple Novauris acquisition

Apple has announced it acquired voice diction pioneer Novauris Technology with the direct intention of making Siri better.

According to TechCrunch, Apple quietly acquired Novauris last year, which is a research subsidiary of Dragon Systems – a company well known for their voice dictation pioneering.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans”, read the semi-confirmation from Apple.  

Novauris was founded in 2002 and now operates with Yoon Kim as CEO, with the two co-founders Melvyn Hunt and John Bridle. This team has worked with Dragon Systems, Nortel and even SRI which is partly responsible for the launch of Siri itself.

When called up, co-founder Hunt at Novauris UK office actually answered the phone “Apple” and confirmed the company had been acquired by Apple and Novauris is no more.

The team has been working on improving Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, since last autumn and could introduce new enhancements with iOS 8 at WWDC in June.

You might not have heard of Novauris before, and to be honest neither had we, but its founders were key speech researchers for Dragon Systems, which was well known for software like DragonDictate and Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

The team will most likely bolster Siri’s voice recognition using its own large-vocabulary, automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology that can access information stored on mobile devices or remote servers.

This could make Siri a better competitor for the newly announced Windows Phone 8.1 Cortana voice assistant, which uses a special notebook feature to discover and learn things about you as you use it.

From what we saw during the Microsoft Build Conference, Cortana should be the most advanced and helpful of all mobile voice assistants on offer at present.

Google Now has been touted as the best so far, especially with its upcoming strong integration with Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch OS.

Apple revealed that its annual WWDC conference will run from June 2 – 6 and will focus on all the new iOS and OS X features coming to Apple devices.

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