Siri may come to Mac OS X, an Apple patent suggests

Going on the basis of a job posting on Apple’s site at the start of last year, the tech powerhouse has been working on launching Siri for desktop for some considerable time.

The latest indication that Apple is looking to bring its voice-activated digital assistant to OS X came on Thursday with the publication of a patent application by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

‘Intelligent digital assistant’

Titled “Intelligent digital assistant in a desktop environment,” the 92-page document, which was filed earlier this year, goes into great detail about how Apple may one day give OS X users the chance to talk to their machines to find out information or perform a range of tasks.

Siri is currently limited to Apple’s mobile devices, while Mac computers feature only a dictation tool when it comes to built-in voice-based functionality.

Related: Our Siri guide – how to merge your life with Apple’s witty virtual assistant

The filing, while not identifying Siri by name, describes how the desktop-based digital assistant could exist as an app and be activated either by a voice command (possibly “Hey, Siri,” which is coming soon with the launch of iOS 8) or via a specific keyboard or mouse gesture.

‘Third hand’

As noted by Apple Insider, which first noticed the publication of the patent, one of more intriguing bits of information in the document mentions using the digital assistant as a “third hand.” It describes how a voice-activated assistant could be used to perform tasks during a work session where the user has many applications running at once. In this way, the user could issue voice commands to carry out tasks on programs running in the background to pull up information or content for the program running in the foreground.

By way of example, the document includes a diagram (below) of a text editor in use. To the left of it are suggested images from a Web search performed in the background following an instruction given to Siri to search for those images.

apple siri for mac patent filing

The patent also describes how a Mac user could employ Siri to manage the desktop, including, for example, organizing folders and moving files around.

Besides some of the extra features listed in the patent, the app would likely perform much in the same way as the iOS version.

In many ways, the biggest surprise about Siri and OS X is that it’s taking so long for the two to combine. In fact, despite the publication of the patent filing, we’re none the wiser about the Cupertino company’s rollout plans for a desktop-based Siri, after all, there’s no reference to it in Yosemite, the next version of Apple’s desktop OS coming this fall.

The question is, do you think you’d be likely to use Siri for Mac? Sound off in the comments below.


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