The hire is a victory for Apple, which many Silicon Valley executives and analysts view as lagging its peers in artificial intelligence, an increasingly crucial technology for companies that enable computers to handle more complex tasks, like understanding voice commands or identifying people in images.
The move will see Giannandrea head up Apple's AI and machine learning division, where he will report directly into CEO Tim Cook.
The former senior vice president of Engineering section, Giannandrea joined Google back in 2010. The letter suggests that "concerns" were raised internally recently, and that Diane Greene, a member of the Google board of directors, responded.
The controversial involvement of the company in Project Maven came as workers became highly concerned with defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who often notes the goal of increasing the lethality of the U.S military.
The employee letter itself described Project Maven as an effort to develop a "customized AI surveillance engine" that uses "Wide Area Motion Imagery" captured by government drones for the purposes of tracking vehicles and other objects. Apple stresses user privacy to a greater degree than Google, which offers free and ad-supported services with the understanding that Google might use your data to improve its technology.
Google employees have petitioned showing their opposition for the company's part in a Pentagon AI program. This news, first reported by The New York Times, comes after the executive announced to step down from his role at Google. Both firms have employed hundreds of researchers working across different domains that frequently publishes substantive papers that help inform internal products and the collective AI research community at large.
It is also expected that Apple will use Giannandrea's experience to improve its own facial recognition software for correctly tagging users' photos, and for turning Siri into a more able and intelligent smart home assistant - an area where Apple lags behind the competition.
The spokesperson continued, "The technology is used to flag images for human review and is meant to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work". Employees reminded Google that it has a "unique history" and that one of its parent company Alphabet's mottos was "Don't Be Evil". The models are said to be based on only unclassified data.