Talking to Siri can be a frustrating experience, particularly if you're asking the voice technology program questions in a noisy office, restaurant or where sound is making it difficult to discern your words. Anyone who has tried to place a call via voice from the street has had this experience at least once.
Apple appears to have come up with a solution, patenting a way to talk to its virtual assistant via iMessage, sending texts to Siri instead of speaking aloud. These texts could include the regular queries people pose from directions to a location, or just simple search requests.
The patent describes the communication as running in a "messaging environment." While texting is hardly new, texting a so-called "intelligent automated assistant" (Apple's words, not ours) could be. Granted on May 10, the patent wants to expand the ways a user can connect with digital assistants beyond voice—which today is the primary way consumers get information from the technology, including assistants like Cortana and Alexa.
The patent would allow Siri to bring up other application within iMessage, such as a daily calendar.
"Such dedicated user interfaces can limit the opportunities for interaction, which can limit the widespread adoption and application of digital assistants to benefit people's lives," says the patent.
Apple wants to push beyond text as well, allowing Siri to respond with potentially alerts, music, video and animation as well, according to the patent. Currently, asking Siri to bring up video or animation GIFs, for example, causes the digital assistant to show web page listings that approximate what she thinks you want.
9to5Mac, which first reported on the patent, says that the tool could potentially appear in iOS 11, what would be Apple's next mobile operating system update. Apple is expected to reveal details about updates to its products at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference.