Apple kick-started the mobile digital assistant thing with Siri some years ago, but it's Google who mostly run the machine learning show, with its creepily efficient Google Now service. Based on its jobs postings, Apple wants to play some catch-up ball.
According to a Reuters report, which analysed Apple job postings, the company is looking to hire some 80-odd machine learning engineers. While we don't know what this mysterious team will be working on (someone has to get Skynet up and running, after all), there are some obvious candidates, like Siri's new predictive features, or the universal search in iOS and OS X.
Reducing 'friction', as budding startup entrepreneurs like to say, is very much in vogue right now. Amazon's Dash buttons let you buy stuff without thinking; Google Now is all centered around giving you information before you ask for it. To do that, your phone needs to know what you need before you do. That's all about artificial intelligence and machine learning, which is exactly why Apple (and every other tech company) is buying up every machine-learning PhD it can find.