While comparisons vary, Google Assistant tends to outperform Apple’s intelligent digital assistant Siri in a range of areas, which likely explains why Apple has just hired Google’s John Giannandrea to run its machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) efforts.
Employed by Google since 2010, Giannandrea (pictured above) began working for the search giant after the company’s acquisition of Metaweb Technologies, where he was CTO. He led Google’s machine learning development program and two years ago also became senior vice president of search.
Giannandrea’s move represents “a coup in [Apple’s] bid to catch up to the smarts of its rivals’ products,” New York Times tech reporter Jack Nicas said yesterday on Twitter. In his new position, Giannandrea will be among 16 Apple executives who report directly to CEO Tim Cook.
Long-time Google veteran Jeff Dean, who co-founded Google Brain, is expected to take over as the new head of AI, while vice president of core search Ben Gomes will now lead Google’s search efforts.
‘Making Computers Smarter and More Personal’
The first public indications that something was changing in the Google vs. Apple balance came on Monday, when The Information reported that Giannandrea would be stepping down from his positions at Google in a “leadership shuffle.” Yesterday, a report in The New York Times about Giannandrea’s new role at Apple made clear the reason for that shuffle.
“John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal,” Cook told Apple staffers in an email yesterday.
The Times noted that Giannandrea’s hiring is “a victory for Apple, which many Silicon Valley executives and analysts view as lagging its peers in artificial intelligence, an increasingly crucial technology for companies that enable computers to handle more complex tasks, like understanding voice commands or identifying people in images.”…