August 11, 2014
Siri For OS X? New Patent Suggests It May Be On The Way
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
A new Apple patent filed late last week describes an “intelligent digital assistant in a desktop environment,” suggesting that the newest version of their Mac operating system could include currently iOS-exclusive navigator Siri.Siri, which has been a feature included in iPhones and iPads since 2011, has not yet made the jump to the realm of desktop computing, said Mikey Campbell of Apple Insider, However, the 92-page patent filing, which is dated August 7, suggests the Cupertino, California-based company could be planning on including a version of the virtual assistant in the latest version of OS X.
The patent describes a digital assistant that could be “invoked on a user device by a gesture following a predetermined motion pattern on a touch-sensitive surface of the user device” and would then selectively invoke “a dictation mode or a command mode to process a speech input depending on whether an input focus of the user device is within a text input area displayed on the user device.”
“In some embodiments, a digital assistant performs various operations in response to one or more objects being dragged and dropped onto an iconic representation of the digital assistant displayed on a graphical user interface,” the patent continues. “In some embodiments, a digital assistant is invoked to cooperate with the user to complete a task that the user has already started on a user device.”
What that means, explained PC Magazine’s David Murphy, is that a Mac user could potentially activate Siri simply by speaking a specific activation phrase, by completing a particular gesture on a trackpad or keyboard, or even by clicking an icon for the desktop assistant. One example cited by Apple in the patent would have a Macbook user draw two circles on a trackpad to summon Siri, he added.
“Voice input is of specific importance to the patent's disclosures, as the technology is looking to augment keyboard and mouse input, or in some cases replace the physical tools altogether,” Campbell said. “The usual answer/response method seen with Siri for iOS is applied to the desktop variant, though more advanced operations can be performed given the extra computing power afforded by a proper computer.”
“Siri would be able to field questions and respond to commands in the same way it can on iOS, but because the desktop is a different beast with more computing power and different interaction standards, it can also do a lot of other things per the patent,” added TechCruch writer Darrell Etherington. “For example, it could use the cursor position to inform how it handles any commands it’s given by a user – so it’ll apply a copy command to a photo the mouse is hovering over, for instance.”
Etherington added that the OS X version of the digital assistant would also be able to sort and organize files in Finder, as well as drag and drop them from one app to another. The patent also suggests that desktop Siri could replace a mouse and keyboard as an input device, and that it could act as a “third hand” of sorts by allowing Mac users to interact with background apps while working on a different piece of software in the foreground.
“The patent could explain why it has taken so long for Apple to deliver Siri for the Mac; the system described is a significant departure from Siri on mobile, and would require a lot of additional engineering to make it a reality,” the TechCrunch reporter added. “There’s no Siri present in the OS X Yosemite beta preview, so it’s likely not coming this year, but this patent indicates that it’s something Apple has spent considerable time and resources developing, so hopefully we’ll see it arrive sooner rather than later.”
Likewise, Nate Swanner of SlashGear said there is currently “no detailed timeframe” for the OS X version of Siri, and that it is “unclear” when Apple could officially unveil this new feature.
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