Apple has just redeemed the talent he needs to integrate talking toys into Siri, HomePod and his vocal strategy. Apple acquired PullString, also known as ToyTalk, after Axan, Dan Primack and Ina Fried. TechCrunch has received confirmation of the acquisition of sources familiar with the transaction. The start-up manufactures voice experience design tools, artificial intelligence to fuel these experiments and toys like Barbie and Thomas The Tank Engine, in partnership with Mattel. Founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives, PullString then raised $ 44 million.
Apple's Siri is considered very late on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, not only in terms of voice recognition and utility, but also in terms of ecosystem developers. Google and Amazon have created platforms to distribute the skills of many voice application builders, including storytelling, quizzes and other games for kids. If Apple really wants to become the center of your living room connected with Siri and HomePod, it will play well with children who spend their time there. Purchase of PullString could launch Apple's internal catalog of voice-activated toys for children and strengthen its tools for developers of voice processing software.
PullString had already been criticized for being a "child watchdog" in 2015, but it was countered by detailing the security built into the Hello Barbie product and claiming that it would never have been hacked to steal voice recordings or other confidential information. Privacy standards have changed since so many people quickly bought Echos and Google Homes.
In 2016, it was renamed PullString with a focus on development tools to visually map conversations and publish finished products on Google and Amazon platforms. Given the complexity and lack of functionality of SiriKit, the PullString Converse platform could pave the way for more developers to embark on creating voice products for Apple devices.
We contacted Apple and PullString for more details on the availability of PullString and ToyTalk products.
The startup has collected its cash from investors such as Khosla Ventures, CRV, Greylock, First Round and True Ventures. The D series of 2016 was his last raise, which, according to PitchBook, was worth $ 160 million. Although voice space has exploded since then, it can still be difficult for voice experience developers to make money without physical products, and many companies still do not know what to build with tools such as those offered by PullString. This could have caused the startup to consider a better future with Apple, reinforcing one of the most prevalent but also hated voice assistants.