Apple Just Hired Former Google AI Chief John Giannandrea

Kelley Robertson
April 5, 2018

John Giannandrea, Google's former head of search and artificial intelligence, is joining Apple.

"[He's] always on the leading edge; [I] always learn new things when I talk to him", Andreessen continued, adding at the time of Giannandrea's ascension to head of search, it was "great news for Google". Jeff Dean, who leads the Google's deep learning AI research team Google Brain, was to run a separate AI wing in addition to his current position.

Apart from enhancing Apple Siri AI capabilities, Giannandrea would also possibly supervise the development of products like Core ML for iOS app developers and the dedicated AI Chip, which is allegedly under development.

Apple CEO Tim Cook offered up small hints at what's to come in a letter he sent to his employees, telling them that its technology must be infused with the values they all hold dear. Prior to his 10 years at Google, Giannandrea was the chief technology officer at a startup called Metaweb, which was acquired by Google.

Regardless, hopefully Giannandrea's arrival will bring some much-needed progress to Apple's AI division, and help make the next generation of voice assistant AI a reality. He counted 161 job listings from Apple related to Siri.

Originally released way back in 2011, Siri hasn't been able to evolve at a similar pace as younger rivals Cortana, Alexa and the 2016-debuted Google Assistant. At the time Google purchased the company, Metaweb was working on a "semantic web" of linked information online and that work became the foundation of the Google knowledge graph.

Siri is likely to be Giannandrea's focus.

It's not clear from statements and published reports why Giannandrea made a decision to leave Google or join Apple. Apple's smart speaker - the Homepod - has received mixed reviews since its launch a year ago, so Giannandrea's expertise is a major coup for the company. Apple, which pioneered smartphones and tablets, has lagged behind Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Microsoft AI. According to The Verge, while Apple follows strict ethical norms in data collection and user privacy, it has harmed the organization's ability to match other Silicon Valley giants. Apple's vision has always been to make Siri the ultimate personal assistant, and Giannandrea is the key to doing that, applying his AI smarts and expertise to bring machine learning to the actual machine you're using and keep it there.

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