Apple snaps up UK-based speech recognition firm Novauris

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Apple has reportedly splashed the cash on UK-based speech recognition company Novauris, as part of its ongoing work to improve the responsiveness of its voice assistant Siri.

The company has been going since 2002, and specialises in technology, dubbed NovaSearch, that uses voice commands to help people sift through large databases for information.

"It does this by coupling novel, advanced speech recognition with proprietary, fast search techniques," the Novauris website states.

"NovaSearch provides core technology for applications over telephone and data networks and in embedded devices.

"By providing convenient voice input together with modest computation and memory requirements, NovaSearch enables voice-access applications on a wide range of platforms," the website adds.

At the time of writing, Apple was remaining tight-lipped about the acquisition, which was brought to light by a report on TechCrunch late last week.

Apple issued the publication with a short statement that said: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss purpose or plans."

The deal is thought to have been struck during the second half of 2013.

The Novauris listing on Companies House gives an address for the firm that previously housed Apple's UK retail operations. The listing suggests Novauris moved into the premises around October time last year.

While Apple's plans for the technology remain sketchy, it's highly likely the Novauris technology will be used to bolster the capabilities of its voice assistant Siri.

The tool made its debut on the iPhone 4S in 2011, and has blazed a trail for similar technologies on mobile devices. For instance, arch-rival Microsoft debuted its Siri challenger Cortana last week.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.