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Apple buys talking Barbie voicetech startup PullString – TechCrunch



Apple has just bought the talent it needs to make talking toys a part of Siri, HomePod and its voice strategy. Apple reportedly acquired PullString, also known as ToyTalk, according to Axios & # 39; Dan Primack & Ina Fried. The company makes voice experience design tools, artificial intelligence to drive these experiences and toys like talking Barbie and Thomas The Tank Engine toys in collaboration with Mattel. Founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives, PullString increased $ 44 million.

Apple's Siri is considered behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, not only in speech recognition and utility, but also in developer ecosystem. Google and Amazon have built platforms to distribute skills from tons of voice app makers, including storytelling, quizzes and other children's games. If Apple wants to take a real shot at becoming the center of your connected living room with Siri and HomePod, it should play well with the kids who spend their time there. Purchase of PullString was able to skip Apple's own catalog of voice-activated toys for children and to raise its tools for voice developers.

PullString got somewhat flat to be a "child monitoring device" back in 2015, but counteracted by detailed security built-in iHello Barbie product and said it would never be hacked to steal children's voice recordings or other sensitive info. Confidentiality standards have changed since so many people easily purchased Echos and Google Homes always listen.

In 2016, it was rebranded as PullString with a focus on developer tools, enabling visual mapping of conversations and publishing finished products to Google and Amazon platforms. Because of SiriKit's complexity and lack of features, the PullString Converse platform can pave the way for many more developers to jump in building voice products for Apple devices.

We've reached Apple and PullString for more details on whether PullString and ToyTalk's products will remain available.

The start increased its money from investors, including Khosla Ventures, CRV, Greylock, First Round and True Ventures, with a Series D in 2016 as the last trip that PitchBook says valued the start of $ 160 million. While the voicetech space has exploded since then, audio experience developers can still find it difficult to make money without accompanying physical products, and many companies are still not sure what to build with tools like those offered by PullString. It could have made the start to see a brighter future with Apple, strengthen one of the most ubiquitous, but also most detestable voice assistants.


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