Apple acquires PullString, a voice app startup in San Francisco that publishes apps for Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and is known for providing the voice software system for toys.
The move is viewed as part of Apple’s push into voice recognition and artificial intelligence technology, although Apple has not spoken publicly about the recent acquisition. The purchase under $100 million, brings both voice technology and talent to Apple.
Founded by Pixar executives in 2011, PullString was formerly called ToyTalk. The company’s primary product, Converse, enables customers to create their own apps with distinct voices and advanced sound options. Converse was widely used in Mattel toys, such as the popular Hello Barbie and Thomas the Tank Engine products.
Recently, PullString has forayed into IoT devices, primarily focused on virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant. PullString’s Converse lets you create your own customizable interactions with users. This is a feature that Siri lacks. Apple could be purchasing PullString to help grow Siri-enabled apps and features, which lag behind the numerous integrations available today via open sourced Amazon and Google AI.
Current Converse integrations range from customer support experiences such as troubleshooting issues to voice-enabled FAQ and games, trivia and quizzes. Converse could help accelerate Siri-powered apps by providing developers with better tools and also to provide integrations directly into the iPhone and HomePod.