Partnerships / Acquisitions

Apple Ups Its Ante On Visual Search

Regaind, the French startup that’s working on an API to analyze the content of photos, has reportedly been acquired by Apple.

According to a news report in TechCrunch citing multiple sources, the purchase was completed earlier this year. Apple is very quiet when making small buys, and told TechCrunch: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” The startup, according to the report, has raised a little under $500,000 in venture funding from SIDE Capital.

The acquisition could be designed to enhance Apple’s intelligent search, which it added to the Photos app on iPhones a couple of years back, enabling users to search photos via a word like “dog or house. Apple is able to do that by analyzing a user’s photos when the device is charging and not being used. Regaind can provide users with more details about the photos. For example, for a series of pictures shot in burst mode, the technology can tell a user which one came out best.

The report speculated that with the technology, Apple will be able to enhance the memory section of the Photos app, in which the software creates albums automatically based on dates, locations and events, among other things. Regaind can enable those memories to have the best possible photos. The report noted the startup can also analyze faces to determine gender, age and emotion.

Apple is set to roll out the iPhone X next month, which has its Face ID tool to unlock the phone and to send texts with animoji facial expressions, but it’s not clear if it uses Regaind technology. It’s also not clear if Regaind will work on Apple devices directly or will be used somehow behind the scenes, given Apple’s focus on protecting users’ privacy, noted the report.

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