The personal assistant app and service Cue has been bought up, and while Apple hasn't offered an official confirmation it's the company that dropped between US$40 million and $60 million on the deal, word on the street is that's exactly what happened. If so, Cue's assets will give Apple a strong boost in the digital assistant game and give Google's Now technology a run for its money.
Cue is known for its social search and personal assistant features. It could sift through content on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and fold in information from Gmail email messages along with documents stored on Dropbox. With the information Cue gathered it could build lists of relevant and timely information on the fly tailored for each user.
If that sounds a lot like Google Now, that's because in many ways it is. Google Now tries to anticipate your schedule and routine, and then displays information based on what you're doing, where you are, or where you're going.
The purchase means Cue users don't have access to the service any more, and the company is offering refunds to its subscribers. Little consolation for Cue subscribers, but better than finding they lost the service along with the money they paid for a subscription.
Assuming Apple is the company that snapped up Cue, it's a safe bet we'll see its features show up at some point in Siri. Apple has been actively working on improving the feature set for its voice-based control system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and adding in features that better anticipate user's actions and react accordingly would be a great way to help draw new users away from Google Now.
Apple recently purchased the public transit app maker Embark and the data compression company AlgoTrim, both of which could prove useful in enhancing Siri's features, and the media search company Matcha.tv, which specializes in telling users exactly where the shows they want to watch are available.
Spinning together all of Apple's recent acquisitions builds a tapestry where Cue could be a core part, bringing together all kinds of information that's parsed and presented in a useful way -- and all through Siri.
Apple hasn't officially confirmed that it purchased the company, and the Cue website only said that "the Cue service is no longer available." What the site doesn't say is that we'll most likely see Cue's features surface again in Siri.
[Thanks to TechCrunch for the heads up]