Tom Gruber, who created the platform for Siri (along with Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer) announced his plans to leave the Cupertino tech-giant indefinitely this week, The Information reports.
Gruber, Kittlaus and Cheyer are credited with creating Siri, the company’s proprietary voice assistant platform, and continuing to build it out since their arrival at Apple in 2010.
The team had originally developed a third-party iOS app dubbed Siri under the guise of their tech start-up, Siri, Inc. Apple then acquired Siri, Inc., along with its trifecta of co-creators, in April 2010 for a cool $200 million.
As we previously reported, both Kittlaus and Cheyer left their posts at Apple in 2011 and 2012, respectively — though the pair were reunited in 2014 when they joined forces to create an advanced new voice-driven platform dubbed Viv.
Interestingly, while Viv initially appeared to be even more effective — and based on a more robust artificial intelligence framework — than Siri, the duo’s project was ultimately sold off to Samsung back in 2016 — at whence Viv became Bixby, the Galaxy-maker’s half-baked AI platform.
The Information notes that Gruber stayed on with Apple for another few years following Kittlaus and Cheyer’s departures, ultimately going on to become head of the company’s Siri development team. While no longer employed in that role, Gruber is also the last of the original Siri co-founders to have left the nest — so his retirement places Apple in a unique but confounding situation.
An Apple spokesperson confirmed the news of Gruber’s resignation in a statement to The Information, noting that he was “retiring to pursue personal interests in photography and ocean conservation.”
Apple’s Siri team has been undergoing some internal leadership changes for a while now. Earlier this year, the company announced it hired John Giannandrea — the former head of Google’s search and artificial intelligence units — to head up its own machine learning and AI operations.
Although he was hired back in May, it wasn’t until last week that Apple officially updated its leadership page reflecting Giannandrea’s new role as chief of machine learning and AI strategy.
Prior to hiring Giannandrea, however, Apple’s Siri development team was controlled by VP of software engineering, Craig Federighi, who took over the post from VP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, last year.
Apple has also been exposed to a barrage of criticism from a lot of people who believe Siri is seriously riddled with flaws and shortcomings compared against the efficacy of her chief rivals, including Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and even Microsoft’s Cortana.
Luckily, with Giannandrea getting settled in his new role, things are already looking up for Siri and the prospect of her future capabilities. When announcing iOS 12 earlier this summer, Apple also showcased its powerful new automation app (dubbed Siri Shortcuts), which will allow iOS 12 users to create multi-step workflows and reminders using Siri.. The app, which will be available for free when iOS 12 arrives this fall, is a clear spin-off and byproduct of Apple’s 2017 WorkFlow acquisition.