Is Grokr Apple's foray into predictive search?

To keep up with Google Now, Apple may be looking to boost its virtual assistant technology.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced last week that Apple had acquired nine startups since October. And, Cult of Mac's Mike Elgan believes one of these companies could be the predictive search app Grokr.

While neither Apple nor Grokr has given any signals that this is the case, such an acquisition would indeed make sense for the tech giant.

Grokr is an app that can be used with iOS. Like Google search, it uses a type of knowledge graph that takes bits of information from across the Web and synthesizes it for users. In a sense, Grokr works a bit like Google Now.

And, Google Now has a leg up on Apple when it comes to virtual assistant technology, according to Elgan. While Google is forging ahead with Google Now -- offering users voice recognition and predictive search -- Apple is dilly-dallying with Siri, which has natural language capability but no pre-emptive information gathering.

By adding Grokr's predictive search capability to Siri's natural language capability, Elgan said Apple will be able to easily rival Google Now.

Elgan has gathered circumstantial evidence, which he says he believes shows that Apple might have bought Grokr. In addition to Cook's announcement last week, Apple also said it will be announcing a major overhaul of iOS at its WWDC event on June 10.

Also, Grokr announced on its Web site that as of June 4 its app will be shut off. The startup wrote that it is now working on a new predictive information project called NEXT.

CNET contacted Apple and Grokr for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.