Siri Voice Assistant Coming To Mac OS X
With Microsoft planning to include its Siri-clone “Cortana” in Windows 9 comes the news that Apple is also planning a similar move through a new patent entitled “Intelligent Digital Assistant in a Desktop Environment”.
The patent is 92 pages, with many dedicated to the explanatory images that show how the system will work.
The desktop version of Siri as explained appears to be even more intelligent than that found for iPads and iPhones, with some of the images clearly displaying a Mac OS X-like interface accessed through a touch screen, indicating Apple is working on touch screen Macs for future release.
The assistant has been designed to work with keyboard and mouse, and with touch, letting you perform various tasks such as sorting files by date or location, or dragging and dropping files into the assistant for processing, such as comparing files, merging them or for collaborating with others.
Voice commands can also help the user keep hands on the keyboard so a subsequent step in an task or procedure can be done by voice, rather than needing to reach for the trackpad or mouse, which can save the user time and make multi-step tasks easier to accomplish.
Set to be activated by mouse or keyboard, it is expected that users will be able to say “Hey Siri” to get the computer ready to act upon your next voice command.
As with the current Siri on iOS, you can also ask questions about virtually anything, but the appeal of voice control that actually works properly, combined with a touch screen means we are likely looking at a next-gen Mac that will make Windows 8.1 and older Macs look like relics from the Windows 95-era 20th century – and even more popular at retail stores.
Apple’s assistant with voice control looks to be the most integrated digital assistant yet, posing a serious challenge for Microsoft, Google and others deliver something similar, rather than just a smart question answerer.
The patent’s abstract, written in jargon-filled legalese, states: “Methods and systems related to interfaces for interacting with a digital assistant in a desktop environment are disclosed.
“In some embodiments, a digital assistant is invoked on a user device by a gesture following a predetermined motion pattern on a touch-sensitive surface of the user device. In some embodiments, a user device selectively invokes a dictation mode or a command mode to process a speech input depending on whether an input focus of the user device is within a text input area displayed on the user device.
“In some embodiments, a digital assistant performs various operations in response to one or more objects being dragged and dropped onto an iconic representation of the digital assistant displayed on a graphical user interface. In some embodiments, a digital assistant is invoked to cooperate with the user to complete a task that the user has already started on a user device.”
There is sadly no guarantee that Apple will release Siri for Mac OS X when the new OS X Yosemite launches in September or October this year, meaning that we might have to wait for Yosemite’s successor (10.11) or a Yosemite 10.10.1 or 10.10.2 update to get the feature, but it is already highly anticipated by the masses who want their computers to work even more easily than smartphones and tablets do today.
While keyboards and mice aren’t yet quaint relics, the Star Trek-like future of talking to all the computers and devices in your life is clearly accelerating.
As Star Trek’s Captain Picard would say… Engage, and make it so!