Siri may have been the first voice-activated smart assistant to hit the market, but few people these days would still say that it’s the best. As Apple competitors like Amazon and Google have continued to make strides with their own artificially intelligent helpers, Siri seems to be falling by the wayside. But now, Apple is hoping to play some serious catch-up. As originally sported by Thinknum, it would appear that Apple is looking to hire tons and tons of bright minds to work on Siri, with a total of 161 related positions listed as of the end of March.
While Siri experts have long been in high demand, Thinknum noted that “there was a distinct surge in February of this year” for Siri-related positions at Apple. Unsurprisingly, almost all the job postings are for engineers, with job descriptions suggesting that applicants will need to be ready to improve Siri’s “General Knowledge” and her “Knowledge Graph.” Also in demand are machine learning scientists, as well as engineers capable of working on Siri’s clairvoyance (or as Apple calls it, Proactive Intelligence), as well as folks with an interest in the SiriKit developer framework and speech generation.
Alas, this hiring spree may not do much to improve Siri’s standing, as Apple’s competitors are ramping up their own hiring efforts as well. Thinknum also reported that Amazon is on the lookout for 598 Alexa-focused positions. That is four times the number of folks Apple is hiring for Siri, which may explain why Alexa is so far ahead.
Like Apple, Amazon is also focusing on hiring engineers — 49 percent of the 598 job descriptions include the word “engineer.” That said, the company is also on the lookout for software development managers, solutions architects, data scientists, and product marketing managers (to help Amazon Echo devices extend their lead over the competition).
Clearly, the 161 new Siri-focused folks at Apple will have their work cut out for them. While Apple’s HomePod has been lauded as an excellent speaker, users and critics alike have lamented the lack of functionality beyond the ability to play music — much of that problem stems from Siri’s inabilities. Really, you can’t control your smart home via Apple’s voice assistant, which makes it far less useful than either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, both of whom can control your entire smart ecosystem.
That said, even though Apple is looking to ramp up its hiring efforts, there’s no telling when Siri will actually begin to make improvements. After all, engineers take time to build and better products, and it could take months or even years before the new hires are able to implement the changes needed for Siri to truly be competitive with the other assistants on the market.
Updated on April 3: Amazon is ramping up its Alexa-related hiring efforts.