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Siri for OS X Mac Desktop

Updated on August 13, 2014

Ever since Apple added the Siri automated personal assistant to its devices, it has turned into a very useful tool for many people. In fact, for many Siri is more than just an automated assistant – it is a friend and companion that they cannot do without. From doing simple tasks like waking them up in the morning to telling them the latest movie, Siri has become an indispensable part of many people’s life.

This functionality is set to get a serious boost if current reports of a pending patent are to be believed. Apple is said to have mentioned the possibility of extending the tool to desktop PCs in the latest patent application. This means that if the patent is successfully turned into a marketable product, there will be a new Siri for desktop that would be able to function in much the same way as its counterpart on the other mobile devices such as iPhones.

What Can Siri for OS X do?

According to the patent, you will be able to activate Siri on your Mac desktop in a number of ways:

  • Hand gestures on a sensitive touch screen or track pad will activate the personal assistant. For example, making a circular motion on the trackpad could trigger the program to perform a certain predetermined action.
  • Voice Commands, like those on the current Siri for mobile devices, will be used to control actions if the user is currently on a portion of the screen that requires some form of input. In fact, the Apple patent states that “ …in some embodiments, the device will invoke dictation mode…. depending on whether an input focus of the user device is within a text input area displayed on the user device”.
  • On Screen actions will involve an icon representing the personal assistant which will be activated when items are moved to it. For example, you may move files to the Siri for desktop icon which then become active and you will be able to tell Siri to send them to someone, delete or archive them for future use.
  • Keyboard actions will be complemented by the digital assistant in that you will be able to ask Siri to do some background actions such as looking for information while you are typing into your word processor. This productivity improvement aspect of Siri is bound to go down well with people who do a lot of typing on their desktops.

Using the digital assistant on the desktop makes a lot of sense and is bound to give it the much needed boost.

The wordy 92 page patent filing shows that Apple wants to take it to the next level from mere voice dictation tools on the desktop to a handy productivity tool that is bound to increase the sales of its already successful Mac line.

What will the next Mac look like?

Apple’s Siri for desktop patent also gives us strong hints as to what the next generation of Mac desktops will look like. While a useable product might not be in the offing for another year or so, there are a few clues as to the hardware features that can be discerned from the patent application:

  • Touchscreen for the Mac desktop is a real possibility given the statement in the patent that hints at Siri been activated through user interface interactions on the touch-based screen. This will be a clear migration of a feature that has been the preserve of mobile devices to the desktop and is another sure indicator that Apple still places a lot of importance on the OS X platform
  • Sensitive Microphones will have to be in place for Siri to work optimally on desktops due to the interference from surrounding noise sources. The microphones in iOS devices work so well because they are set up in such a way that they are able to shut out external noise and only capture the speaker’s voice. Siri would probably been put on the desktop a while back had it not been for the limitation of the microphone. The new Mac desktops will definitely have a new kind of in-built microphone that is able to capture the user’s voice clearly without external interference.
  • In-built GPS capabilities are a crucial feature that makes Siri powerful on mobile devices as they allow for location mapping of the user so as to give better responses to queries based on where the user is. While it is still possible for search engines to figure out your location when using a desktop, the accuracy of this information is limited to a few hundred feet from the actual location. The new Mac desktops would therefore need to have a built in GPS chip to use Siri more effectively
  • Built –in 4G is a possibility in a Mac that is going to use Siri because of the need of constant communication with the data centre – a task that is limited when using on Wi-Fi platforms.

The Apple patent is a clear indication that the next Mac desktop computers will have Siri abilities. There is obvious going to be a major product announcement regarding the OS X platform in the coming months as was hinted in a recent article. What the new device that will change the computing platform will look like is something we will know in a few months’ time.


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