Apple's Acquisition of Xnor.ai Gives Us A Glimpse of the Future of Its Products
Wed, April 14, 2021

Apple's Acquisition of Xnor.ai Gives Us A Glimpse of the Future of Its Products

Apple has a different goal when it comes to data privacy / Photo Credit: Moab Republic (via Shutterstock)

 

Jay McGregor of business news site Forbes said Apple has reportedly spent $200 million to acquire Seattle-based AI company Xnor.ai, which specializes in edge-based AI. The said company is one of many for Apple, which has become better at “vacuuming up tech startups.” However, Apple’s move is also giving us a glimpse into the tech giant’s thinking when it comes to future devices. Xnor.ai’s work on hyper-efficient, low-power AI that doesn’t need to be connected to the cloud (processed locally on-device) or even requires powerful processing shows which areas Apple is currently working on. Apple hasn’t (and doesn’t) typically say why it acquires certain companies and how they fit into their future plans and endeavors. Hence, we can only speculate on how Xnor.ai’s work is aligned with Apple’s master plan.

Siri has fallen behind Alexa and Google’s Assistant, but Apple might have a different goal with the acquisition: giving users the privilege to control extremely personal data. The amount of information required to deliver a service like Assistant also entails handing your information over. Look at the Web and App Activity tracking setting on your Android handset. You’ll see that Google monitors and stores almost everything you do on your mobile device, Nest product, or Assistant-enabled device. In exchange, you’ll get hyper-personal recommendations and cutting-edge technology like Duplex.

The data you consent to give makes Assistant good. Frankly, many of Google’s products barely function if you disable the Web and App Activity tracking setting. This might not sound appealing for some and Apple is likely to capitalize on that. From declining requests to weaken encryption on its devices to Apple’s on-device AI, the company has made its stance clear on data privacy. On the one hand, we have google with its AI technology breakthroughs in exchange for your data. On the other, we have Apple, which may not develop a groundbreaking technology, but if it does, your information may most likely stay in your phone.

Apple is walking on a different path. If data privacy becomes a key or a factor in purchasing smart devices, then Apple will most likely please its customers.