Apple patent application hints at Siri on the Mac

Apple's Siri has been working on iOS to provide digital assistance, but now, the platform might have some tricks up its sleeve for the Mac.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read


Is Apple's Siri coming to the Mac? A new patent filing suggests it might just happen.

The US patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published a patent application describing an "Intelligent digital assistant in a desktop environment." The 92-page application essentially describes how Siri technology, which is available only on iOS to this point, could be applied to Macs and make the operating system smarter than it is currently.

According to the patent, which was earlier reported on by Apple Insider, the technology would allow Mac owners to use natural speech to give commands and ask the computer to perform actions without requiring any hands-on action. The technology would retrieve data and use contextual clues in the person's command to determine exactly what should be retrieved.

Apple's Siri has been available on iOS since 2011. After the initial hype wore off, many users found its functionality somewhat limited and mostly tied to information found on Google, within iOS, or on Wikipedia. Over the last few years, Apple has continued to improve Siri to make it a more worthwhile application for those seeking a virtual personal assistant, which has made some of its staunch supporters pleased.

Microsoft, however, has used Siri as a marketing ploy to get people to think more about its own product line. In a rash of recent ads, Microsoft has shown how its own virtual personal assistant, Cortana, can perform many more tasks than Siri. Apple has yet to publicly respond to those ads.

According to the patent, the Mac version of Siri would be activated either by opening an application or simply requesting it to open with a voice command. Like the iOS Siri, the Mac version would listen to the command and communicate with an Apple server to determine the proper response. As with the iOS version, the app could be opened from anywhere within the operating system.

Finally, Apple envisions Siri being a bit more capable, thanks to the extra computing power in the Mac. The feature could do everything from creating multiple file folders to inserting images. The idea, according to the patent, is for Siri to become so smart, it can handle nearly every task given it, regardless of its complexity. The result could technically be a voice-controlled operating system.

That said, Apple, like many other companies, spends an inordinate amount of time inventing technologies. Just because the company has filed for a patent application, it does not necessarily mean Siri will be coming to the Mac. However, Apple plans to launch OS X 10.10 Yosemite later this year, and while Siri support hasn't been announced so far, that could change.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.