Apple Siri coming to the Mac – Desktop application in the works

By Alexandra Burlacu | Aug 11, 2014 07:58 AM EDT

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It would seem that Apple intends to bring its popular digital assistant, Siri, to the MacBook as well, according to a newly-uncovered patent filing.

Siri first made its debut back in 2011, launching as a sassy virtual assistant for the iPhone 4S. In fact, the "S" in that iPhone iteration stood for Siri. Apple's virtual assistant quickly grew in popularity and raised plenty of interest worldwide, and the company included the software in subsequent iPhones.

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Fast forward to present date, and it looks like Siri may break from its mobile-only chains and make its way to the MacBook as well. While Apple has made no announcement in this regards just yet, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has released a patent Application Apple filed for the desktop version of Siri.

This means that the digital assistant may soon become available for MacBook users, although it remains unclear for now just when exactly will Apple release this new desktop application.

Not only does Apple want to push Siri beyond mobile, but it also wants to improve on its existing features and make it even more useful to a wider range of Apple users. Apple filed for the patent just a few days ago, according to Apple Insider.

Called the "Intelligent Digital Assistant," the patent application details how Siri could prove to be useful for Mac users. More specifically, the Siri desktop application would be able to run in the background or rest in the dock, and users would be able to activate it either by using a gesture or their voice.

"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 or 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," reads Apple's patent application with the USPTO.

With iOS 8, for instance, Apple introduced a voice command to summon the digital assistant simply by saying "Hey, Siri." The desktop application of Siri is expected to offer the same functionality as on mobile. This means that Siri should be able to answer questions and execute commands, just like it does on iOS. However, the digital assistant is expected to be able to do a lot more on desktop, as the patent application suggests.

"In some embodiments, a digital assistant performs 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."

For instance, Siri could help organize files and folders in Files, allow users to copy/paste something just by hovering the mouse, and more. The patent listing further reveals that the desktop version of Siri for Mac could also serve as a third input device, in addition to the keyboard and mouse. The application describes this functionality as the "third hand," which would enable users to use background applications while working with other apps in the foreground.

"For example, while typing in a text editor, a user may want to access a picture or piece of information from the Web. Invoking a digital assistant by voice to perform this secondary task saves more mouse clicks and allows continuous focus be paid to the next editing task at hand," explains Apple Insider's Mikey Campbell.

It's still early now and the desktop application for Siri still has a way to go before it actually reaches the Mac, but it's nonetheless good to know that Apple is working on it. This means that Siri will not be ready to launch with OS X Yosemite, but it will arrive on desktop at some point.


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