Siri co-founder Tom Gruber has left Apple to “pursue personal interests.” He was the last of the original Siri group to go and before his departure served as head of the Siri Advanced Development team.
Apple representatives speaking with The Information said Gruber decided to retire so he could pursue personal interests in photography and ocean conservation.
Apple bought Siri in 2010 and turned the product into its own voice assistant for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and also the Mac. At first Siri was seen as the leader in consumer voice assistant technology, but was eclipsed by Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
Word surfaced earlier in June that Apple hired former Google AI boss John Giannandrea as Chief of Machine Learning and AI Strategy. His responsibilities include Siri development, which makes the timing of Gruber’s departure interesting especially since Vipul Ved Prakash, Apple’s head of search, also recently quit.
Maybe Apple decided it’s time to step up its game in the voice assistant market, and that included shaking up the Siri team. Apple’s insistence on maintaining user privacy has made keeping Siri on par with competitors a harder job, but considering Giannandrea is running the team, these latest prominent departures are likely a sign hasn’t been happy with Siri’s progress.