Tim Cook’s company could be expanding the use of Siri into the Messages app. Apple’s latest patent application appears to be suggesting that in the future, Siri could be deeply integrated into Messages such that users would have the capacity to send messages to their friends while also communicating with Siri in a single interface.
This Thursday, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Officer published a new patent application that was filed by the Cupertino giant on May 10, 2016. Application no. 20170132019 is entitled “Intelligent automated assistant in a messaging environment,” and it details a way of deeply integrating Siri into Messages. Such combination would enable users to do two things in one interface: communicate and command Siri via text and engage in conversations with friends.
“In one example process, a graphical user interface (GUI) having a plurality of previous messages between a user of the electronic device and the digital assistant can be displayed on a display. The plurality of previous messages can be presented in a conversational view,” wrote inventors Petr Karashchuk, Tomas A. Vega Galvez and Thomas R. Gruber. The authors explained that this new invention would basically combine the graphical user interface for text messaging with the ability to converse with Siri. In addition, the voice assistant can also act as a third party in group chats.
AppleInsider noted that this proposed system seems to be more advanced than the existing implementations of Siri. The virtual assistant mainly relies on speech recognition to communicate and get commands from users. Furthermore, this would expand Siri’s functionality since Messages supports a variety of communication tools such as text, audio, image and video. This would surely make it easier for users to prompt Siri to do things by just encoding things into the Messages graphical user interface.
It’s clear why Apple is going toward the direction of a text-based UI for its Siri smart assistant. While speech detection does have a high degree of accuracy, it is not free from errors. It is not uncommon for Siri to make mistakes from time to time, especially when there’s noise in the background. Creating this text-based UI would provide users a means to clarify misunderstood queries and commands. This is also beneficial to instances when the user is in a location that demands silence, like a library or a movie theater perhaps.
The proposed system also appears to be very promising as it would allow users to use images, audio and videos when asking for Siri’s assistance. For instance, a user may upload images and ask questions like “Where is this?” “What insect is this?” and “Which company uses this logo” to Siri. The smart assistant would then scan and identify the image before responding to the user. The same thing can be done with audio and videos, as these non-text media can make the conversation with the virtual help flow smoothly.
While Apple’s inventors are already seeing the potential of this advancement in Siri’s functionality, it is still not clear if the company is considering the implementation of this system this year. Interestingly, back in March, there was a sketchy rumor from an Israeli site claiming that the iOS 11 operating system will come with changes to Messages, such that the app would have some form of Siri integration. Could the rumor be factual all along? Since there is no means of verifying this now, the only thing to do is to wait for iOS 11 to be introduced at the Worldwide Developers Conference this June.
Apple appears to be planning to deeply integrate Siri into its Messages app.