Google has acquired Api.ai, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup that helps developers integrate voice-command capabilities into user interfaces. Financial terms of the deal weren’t revealed.
“Api.ai offers one of the leading conversational user interface platforms, and they’ll help Google empower developers to continue building great natural-language interfaces,” Scott Huffman, Google’s vice president of engineering, said in a blog post today. The purchase continues investments Google has made over the years in “core machine learning technologies that enable natural-language interfaces,” he said.
Google already has tools for natural-language processing, including Google Assistant, unveiled in May, a product intended to compete with Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Siri. Some have speculated Google Assistant will be an upgrade of Google Now, a voice-command feature already available for Android and iOS. Details on how Api.ai’s technology will be incorporated into Google’s product line are forthcoming, Huffman said.
More than 60,000 developers are using Api.ai’s products to build conversational experiences for Facebook Messenger, Kik and Facebook, Huffman said. Api.ai claims 20 million users take advantage of voice services it has helped enable.
Api.ai was founded in October 2010 and has received $8.6 million in four investment rounds, according to CrunchBase. It’s led by CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn, with an executive team of eight others. Investors include Intel Capital, Motorola Solutions, Alpine and SAIC Motor.