Apple purchased a machine learning startup back in 2018 that could boost its various services, according to a new report.
Sometime last year, Apple acquired Laserlike, a small Silicon Valley-based startup that was founded four years ago by three former Google engineers, The Information reported. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Laserlike had raised more than $24 million from various venture capitalists.
The Cupertino tech giant later confirmed the acquisition with the standard cut-and-paste statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
One of Laserlike’s primary products was basically a search engine that used machine learning techniques to aid in content discovery and personalization. More specifically, Laserlike described the app as an “interest search engine.”
Essentially, the app would highlight news, web pages, videos and other content specifically to a user.
The goal, apparently, was an app that could deal with the overabundance of information on the web. On its website (which is still available), Laserlike said its platform was created to deal with the problem of “sifting through the noise and discovering the stuff you actually care about.”
“Laserlike’s core mission is to deliver high quality information and diverse perspectives on any topic from the entire web,” the website reads. “We are passionate about helping people follow their interests and engage in new perspectives.”
The Information theorizes that Laserlike could be used to boost Siri. Presumably, that means giving the digital assistant a boost when it came to search and discovery (using machine learning to give better search results). It may also be used to boost Siri’s general knowledge, so results wouldn’t have to just come from a search engine.
In the wake of the deal, the Laserlike team was reportedly joined Apple’s artificial intelligence group, which is currently led by former Google engineer John Giannandrea.
But ahead of a premium Apple News subscription, it’s not hard to see how Laserlike’s technology could be applied to a news-based platform — letting users get tailored results as well as different perspectives.
It’s worth noting that the Laskerlike app is no longer available on the App Store or the Google Play store after Apple’s acquisition.