What's Apple up to now? Yesterday it became public that the company had acquired Siri, whose sole purpose in life appears to be to make Siri, a free iPhone app that helps you find things and make plans. To watch Siri in action, it does look pretty useful. But why did Apple pay as much as $200 million for something that it could get for free at the iTunes store?
Answer? One theory suggests that the technology might help Apple better compete with Google. Here's how it works, according to Siri. Let's say you want to find a romantic Italian restaurant near your office. You simply launch Siri and speak the words into your iPhone. It converts your speech to text and after you confirm, it finds restaurants and then searches for the word "romantic" in multiple reviews for those places. Siri can even make the reservation for you. If you decide you'd rather eat near home, just say "How about near my house?" The program will automatically reapply the previous search with the new location. According to what I've read, the software also lets you ask open questions, such as "What's to do around here today?" To that, it might suggest a movie, night club or local event. And of course, Siri also runs on iPad.
The Siri purchase is just the latest in a series of acquisitions for Apple, which reportedly has about a $40 billion cash reserve to play with. Rumors had been spreading for weeks that Apple was in talks to buy chipmaker Intrinsity for about $120 million, and it was confirmed on Tuesday. Apple's new iAd service is based on technology it acquired with Quattro Wireless earlier this year and the company will likely make iTunes libraries accessible from the web thanks to its purchase of Lala late last year. Apple is on a roll.