Apple buys voice app startup PullString

“Apple has agreed to buy PullString, a San Francisco-based startup that enables the design and publishing of voice apps, Axios has learned from multiple sources,” Dan Primack and Ina Fried report for Axios.

“This could help Siri better compete with Alexa,” Primack and Fried report. “PullString was founded in 2011 by a group of former Pixar executives, and originally was used to power interactive voice apps for toys (including Hello Barbie in 2015). It later broadened its approach with the introduction of such IoT products as Amazon Echo and Google Assistant.”

“The upfront deal value is said to be around $30 million, plus around $10 million in potential earn-outs for management,” Primack and Fried report. “That would include CEO Oren Jacob, who once served as Pixar’s CTO.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The synergy abounds.

We continue to pull the string to see where it takes us. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, January 24, 2012

We can continue to pull the string and see where it leads us. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, January 23, 2013

We inspire them to pull the string and see where it takes them. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 9, 2015

Of course, Cook was talking about Apple TV and coding education, but how could he not buy a company named PullString?

Plus the fact that they can do this and soon, hopefully, so will Siri:

Head of Apple’s Siri team apparently has been reassigned – February 4, 2019
AI guru John Giannandrea named to Apple’s executive team – December 20, 2018
Former Apple employees on Eddy Cue: Siri and Eddy were ‘a bad fit’ – September 5, 2018
Apple’s Siri improved by 11 percentage points in correct answers over the last 15 months – July 25, 2018
Apple combines machine learning and Siri teams under John Giannandrea – July 10, 2018
Apple’s ‘personal assistant activation’ patent application hints at improved Siri – May 10, 2018
iOS 11.4 will allow Siri to recognize AirPlay commands – May 3, 2018
iPhone X owners are extremely satisfied with basically everything except Siri – April 20, 2018
Apple’s Siri, HomePod and the voice assistant showdown – April 6, 2018
Apple’s A.I. efforts get shot of adrenaline with Giannandrea coup – April 6, 2018
A.I. defector gives Apple access to Google’s secrets – April 6, 2018
Gene Munster: Poaching AI chief John Giannandrea from Google a win for Apple – April 5, 2018
Apple hires Google’s A.I. chief to improve Siri – April 4, 2018
Apple hires Amazon A9 exec Stasior to run Siri unit – October 15, 2012


  1. I feel that many of these voice interactions are so scripted and limited it’s not as if the voice assistant can simply be told something and understand it needs to have a complete conversation were you answer most of if not all the cues for it to register. It should be simpler where you can say hey Siri I just took my high blood pressure pills and not be prompted with five subsequent questions. Even with Apple shortcuts your life has to be so rigid that to create some shortcuts you really have to think what is every possible step that I must take for an intended outcome to happen. Or I could just have the whole short app confused. Or with machine learning in my neighborhood there is one by us I almost always take unless I decide to walk the information is out there so you can see bus arrival times but I cannot ask Siri hey Siri how far is the bus or when does the next bus come? I would imagine developers have Siri then prompt you with I found five buses near you which bus would you like Arrival time for? By the time I’ve answered all these questions it would have been quicker for me to open the damn app and check myself.

  2. The Bank of America system has a fake typing sound presumably to make you think the bot is a person typing. Each time you answer a question, you hear typing in the background.

    I’m thinking, as I listen to this, “SERIOUSLY?”

  3. Everyone seems to tout Alexa as the gold standard, but in my experience she has been pretty much worthless. When it comes to asking random dumb questions she’s pretty good, but when it comes to asking her to turn on/off lights, on/off ceiling fan, unlock/lock front door, requesting correct music to play etc she fails all the time. When I ask siri to perform those same functions she gets it right almost 100% of the time.

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