A new patent filed by Apple has revealed some interesting potential plans for Siri’s future functionality, giving it the ability to answer your phone for you when you’re otherwise too busy.
But this isn’t as basic as simply telling Siri to reject a call without any sort of explanation. Instead, the assistant would be able to gather contextual information from your phone to provide a personalised message to your caller.
For example, the system could tell a caller that you’re currently driving if it sees that you’re travelling at a certain speed and are using CarPlay.
The patent goes on to explain that you’d then be presented with various options for what to send back to your caller. You could, for instance, just say that you’re driving. Alternatively, it could use your current destination to tell them exactly where you’re going and when you’ll arrive.
Voice or text?
The big question for us is whether the functionality will allow Siri to actually speak to the incoming caller, or whether this is just similar functionality to what Android already offers (it lets you automatically send a text to say you’re busy). For the most part, the patent simply refers to a “message” being sent.
However, claim 19 of the patent declares that “the message comprises at least one of: a text message and a voice message”. The continued references to a “digital assistant” definitely make us think an audio response is on the cards.
Apple isn’t the only company that’s thinking about having its assistant talk to other people on your behalf. At its recent Google I/O conference, Google unveiled some ambitious plans for its own voice assistant that would give it the ability to ring businesses on your behalf, and book haircuts or restaurant tables for you.
There’s no guarantee that the functionality described in the patent will ever see the light of day, but it’s interesting to see that companies exploring this new direction for voice assistants.
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