Rushin Shah, Siri's natural language understanding head has found a new position in Facebook's applied machine learning team. Shah will be working natural language and dialogue understanding, and finding ways to integrate machine learning into Facebook products. According to a report in VentureBeat, Shah was responsible for the development of some important features in Siri, including improving the named entity recognition of Apple's intelligent assistant. Shah studied computer science and engineering at IIT-K.
The move comes at a time when Siri is getting a series of major improvements, including better Siri integration with applications. Siri now learns more about every individual user based on their choices and usage patterns. Siri can now understand and translate to Chinese, Spanish, French, German or Italian . The direction in which Apple wants to take its AI assistant is different from the competitors, such as Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana or the Google Assistant. The focus for Siri is to do a smaller number of tasks very well, instead of building up a wide variety of skills.
One of the big announcements for Siri this year was Apple's entry into the smart speaker market. The segment is currently dominated by the Amazon Echo. The speaker is called the HomePod, and costs $349, and is expected to go on sale in December 2017 in select markets.