Apple isn’t known for putting engineers in far-flung offices. The company’s secretive nature tends to lend itself to keeping its talent close to home. So what’s Apple doing opening an office for engineers in Boston?
The digs are reportedly housing a team of speech-recognition heavyweights in Beantown.
According to a report by Xconomy, the staff at Apple’s new Boston offices are a team of speech-recognition industry veterans who have been tasked to work on Siri. The team includes Larry Gillick, a former vice president of research at Nuance technologies, a company based in Burlington, Mass. that currently provides speech recognition services to Apple for Siri.
Apple’s Boston team all used to be co-workers at VoiceSignal Technologies, a company that was purchased by Nuance in 2007. Nuance also has a large presence in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, tied in part to the company’s $102.5 million acquisition of text input system Swype.
While it’s unclear whether or not Apple is currently trying to build a replacement for Nuance’s technology or build up other speech-recognition features, the satellite office seems like cause for concern to Nuance.
Even if Apple isn’t planning on rolling its own speech recognition solution just yet, the company may just be trying to build an insurance policy in the event relations with Nuance go south. After the botched launch of maps, I’d imagine Apple wants to have replacement tech in its back pocket, just in case. It’s also entirely possible that Apple wants its Boston team to be able to work closely with its partners at Nuance.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.