Tech Industry

Nope, Yahoo isn't building a Siri rival -- at least one we know of

A video depicting a Yahoo personal assistant app was not a Yahoo project, a source told CNET.

Screenshot/Android Police
Ever since Chief Executive Marissa Mayer arrived at Yahoo, the company has been saying it's going to emphasize personalization in its products. And with the former Google executive at the helm, Yahoo also has been toiling away on its search efforts.

But as far as we know, those efforts aren't culminating in a personal assistant app. A video circulating around the Internet on Wednesday that showed what looked like a Yahoo-branded personal assistant app isn't directly connected to Yahoo, according to a source familiar with the company's projects.

Web site Android Police reported that the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company was working on an app akin to Siri and Google Now. Android Police also posted an accompanying video that showed a man driving in a car who encounters some traffic and dictates a text message to the app on the fly, editing it as he goes. A Yahoo spokesperson declined to comment on "rumors and speculation."

Turns out the video wasn't directly related to Yahoo, but there is still a connection. The clip was of a prototype made by natural language startup Robin Labs, and the test footage was leaked, CEO Ilya Eckstein told CNET. Eckstein told TechCrunch that the company has been developing a white-label platform for custom voice assistants, and has been "in conversations" with Yahoo, though the tech giant did not commission the platform.

Yahoo has been on overdrive snapping up startups, presumably building up its war chest for new products (as well as beefing up old ones). The app in the video isn't one of them, but the company has been investing in technology that could help its speech-recognition efforts. Earlier this month, the company announced that it had acquired SkyPhrase, a "natural language processing" company that aims to make human speech more recognizable to computers.

Update, 5:02 p.m. PT: A source familiar with Yahoo's projects has told CNET that a video depicting a Yahoo personal assistant app is not directly connected to Yahoo.

Update, December 19 at 9:20 a.m. PT: Adds more detail about the video.