Apple buys Google Now-like personal assistant Cue

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Google Now had better prepare itself because Apple is gunning for it with the purchase of personal assistant service Cue.

According to reports from AppleInsider and TechCrunch Apple snatched up Cue (allegedly winning over a bid from Dropbox) for an as-yet undetermined sum, but it’s thought to be in excess of $35 million with some reports suggesting between $45 million and $50 million.

Why is this significant? Well of course Apple got to the whole personal assistant thing before Google with Siri, but Google Now usurped it somewhat by offering plenty of capabilities Siri is still yet to match. With the acquisition of Cue, a Google Now-like service which has been around for a while, Apple clearly has plans to bring its own assistant service up to speed.

The existing Cue app has now been shut down with Apple entering the process dishing out refunds to Cue Premium users. Precisely how it will be integrated with Apple’s existing software remains to be seen, but Siri is the most obvious and logical implementation and there’s word that it may fit in with the “Today” page on iOS 7’s notification menu.

Cue was previously known as Greplin, although unlike Google Now it didn’t have access to all of Google’s Search services it did a pretty good job of replicating similar capabilities by aggregating information from your Gmail, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts (amongst others) to come up with daily notifications and plans, but unlike Google Now it could not make recommendations. Google Now, of course, looks at your location data to figure out things like your daily commute, but as a time-based planner and notifications system the two are not so far apart.

Cue is the lesser-known version to Google Now, which was released in 2012.  Cue, formally known as Greplin, complies information from your social networking services to create daily plans for users. Cue pulls information from your mail and calendar to make the plan but unlike Google Now it could not make recommendations.

It’s quite likely any changes made using Cue have longer-term objectives and we wouldn’t expect to see any services using such capabilities until the next major iteration of iOS, which of course will be iOS 8 and would likely arrive on the next major iPhone, probably next year and probably the iPhone 6.

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