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New Apple Patent Hints Future Ability to iMessage Siri

Siri iMessage Patents

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Since Siri’s debut, accessing and using the digital assistant has always required voice commands — which really isn’t the most practical method for noisy places, or environments where you would disturb those around you by talking to your phone. But it might not be that way forever.

Apple has been granted a patent that describes a method of using iMessage (or a similar “messaging environment”) to communicate with and command Siri. The patent, “Intelligent Automated Assistant in a Messaging Environment,” specifically describes a conversational-type view in interacting with an assistant — something that’ll be akin to talking with a chatbot if it’s ever added to a future version of iOS. The premise and application is pretty simple, but the most interesting parts of the patent are the included example figures.

One series of figures — Fig. 6B through 6E — show a user invoking Siri in an iMessage conversation with someone, asking the digital assistant to send a payment to another user. The user authenticates using Touch ID, the payment is sent, and the receiver sends a text letting the user know they got the money — without ever having to leave iMessage. This, interestingly enough, echoes a previous Apple patent that describes Siri interjecting contextually within existing iMessage conversations.

Another set of figures, Fig 12G and 12H, portray a dedicated iMessage conversation exclusively with Siri. These figures show that a user could upload a media file — like an audio clip or a picture — and command Siri accordingly. Alternatively, the figures suggest a user could upload a picture of a wine bottle and tell Siri that they like that particular wine, and Siri will remember the brand for future reference.

Beyond these interesting applications, various figures also show off more standard functions — like asking Siri to set a reminder, text or call a particular person, or answer a question, all through an iMessage thread. Of course, since it is just a patent, there’s no telling when or if such a feature will actually show up in a future product or operating system version — so take it with a grain of salt. The patent, No. 20170132019, was first filed for by Apple in May 2016.

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