Yahoo has acquired the natural language processing startup SkyPhrase, which TechCrunch reports was developing technology that can handle natural inquiries much like Wolfram Alpha or Siri can. The acquisition is just the latest in a spree of purchases by Yahoo under Marissa Mayer's leadership, and it suggests that Yahoo shares the same interest in understanding complex, colloquial input that major tech companies from Facebook to Google have ventured into.
Last year, Forbes reported that SkyPhrase had gotten its technology to work with both Gmail and Twitter, allowing users to receive tailored results when searching for phrases with multiple variables, such as "tweets from NASA with pictures" or "emails that Jane sent me during the holidays containing pictures" — both of which are too complex for Siri to understand. TechCrunch also reports that it had developed two apps, one that allowed users to easily look up fantasy football stats and another that integrated with Google Analytics. The startup's entire four-person team will now be joining Yahoo Labs — a research arm of Yahoo — but the company isn't detailing what they'll be up to from there.