The news Siri may be coming to desktops will have multi-taskers around the globe letting out a tiny cheer of joy for productivity this morning (Before they got back to checking their emails, planning their day, mapping their run and having breakfast). The calm and capable Siri has been standard on iOS since 2011, but in a complex new patent application, Apple has applied to bring the technology to OS X. The desktop version of Siri is likely to be more capable and willing then ever. Apple Insider had further details:
“Apple’s massive 92-page patent application for an ‘Intelligent digital assistant in a desktop environment’ describes a technology that goes far beyond Mac’s current voice dictation feature, and can easily be considered a ‘Siri for Mac.’ Like the current iteration of Siri, limited to iOS, Apple’s desktop version is able to process natural speech and text input to perform actions like completing tasks, inputting and retrieving data, conducting searches and more. Further, the [patent] filing points out that commands are to be taken in context based on deduced user intent..Siri for desktop will use speech recognition to decipher and remembering contextual clues.”
In other words, the latest iteration of Siri will be able to work out what you want and do it. Whether that’s filing and sorting documents, performing a copy and paste action, sending an email or searching the web. And she’ll be able to do it with more than one window open, finally becoming the third hand that so many multi-taskers have dreamed about having.
Fans of the 2013 movie, Her (which starred Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore, a geek in love with his operating system), may be wondering if we’re about to enter a similar world. But the new Siri is still far from qualifying as artificially intelligent.
Before that happens, Apple will need to solve a few problems. Things like permission to act such as how much power would Siri have to make decisions for us, and hence ease the need to operate her ourselves. And how much energy would Siri need to operate, especially in remote situations where she may well be at her most useful.
Thirdly there’s the issue of availability. A true master assistant will remain poised to meet our needs, but does that mean Siri always has to be listening instead of us having to turn her on? And if so, how will Apple stop other people from listening in too? With many things yet to resolve the world of the truly indispensable digital assistant is probably some time away yet, but I for one am looking forward to it.
(Photo courtesy of Marco Pakoeningrat)