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Apple asks its San Diego Siri quality control team to relocate to Texas

Apple asks its San Diego Siri quality control team to relocate to Texas

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A Bloomberg report says Apple gave its San Diego Siri AI workers until the end of January to decide if they’re willing to move to its Austin, Texas campus.

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Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

Apple will combine a San Diego team of 121 employees with one in Austin, Texas, and any of the employees who elect not to move could be let go on April 26. That’s according to Bloomberg, which reported that an Apple spokesperson confirmed that the team, which listens to recordings of Siri interactions to make sure it responded appropriately, will “have the opportunity to continue their role with Apple in Austin.”

The article reports that the staff was surprised by the relocation, which Apple had indicated would involve a move to another campus in San Diego by the end of January, rather than going to Texas. The company reportedly told employees they can apply for other jobs within the company, though some doubt they’re qualified for other Apple roles in the city, and most don’t plan to move.

That’s to be expected given the abruptness — it’s practically guaranteed that some wouldn’t be able to uproot so suddenly. So their departures wouldn’t be a layoff per se, but it’s not far off from that. Apple has mostly avoided layoffs as other companies have made heavy cuts over the last two years.

For those that do relocate, Bloomberg writes they’ll be given $7,000 stipends, while Apple will offer the others four weeks of severance plus another week’s worth per year that they worked, as well as six months of health insurance. The San Diego team reportedly listens to Siri recordings in multiple languages, including Hebrew, English, Spanish, and Arabic.

Apple has generally been perceived as being behind the AI curve, at least when it comes to its digital assistant, despite using people to quality check Siri recordings, as Google and Meta also do. That perception didn’t change with the introduction of LLMs, but Apple has been pouring vast resources into catching up, and it’s reportedly been courting news outlets to buy training data. It recently released its so-called frameworks and libraries supporting AI development on code repositories and is working on optimizing LLMs for use on its iPhones. The company is expected to announce its LLM plans in June.