Apple targets machine learning, artificial intelligence with latest acquisition

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." The tech giant's standard response to questions about recent acquisitions is frustratingly static and uninformative. But the company's latest purchase, machine learning startup Turi, is at least its fourth acquisition in the artificial intelligence space over the last several months – suggesting that whatever its "purpose or plans," Apple is certainly looking to make its devices smarter. 

The tech giant purchased the Seattle-based startup for around $200 million, according to GeekWire. This move not only adds cutting-edge technology and talent to Apple's resource pool, but also strengthens its presence in a region that has become somewhat of an "engineering outpost" for the tech giant in recent years, GeekWire reported. 

Turi's current offerings include a number of toolkits that make it easier for developers to leverage machine learning in their applications. Pandora, for example, has used Turi technology to improve its song recommendations, while Zillow used the software to predict home prices based on a number of local variables, according to a 2015 profile in the Wall Street Journal. 

With these third-party examples in mind, Apple could be planning to offer Turi's machine learning capabilities to third-party iOS developers, making it easier for companies to create performant apps optimized for iPhone and iPad. On the other hand, Apple has plenty of potential to use the technology internally, as it could help improve Siri's responses and improve the performance of its native apps.

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