The US Patent Office published Apple’s substantial 92-page application for “an Intelligent digital assistant in a desktop environment” that is more than a substantial upgrade from the current voice dictation available on Macs currently.
The desktop version should be able to process natural text and speech input to perform actions like searching, data input, completing tasks and more. The patent also points out commands will be taken in context based on deduced user intent. On the whole, it's a Siri for Mac – using speech recognition to decipher and learn the user’s personal preferences.
Digital assistant, ahoy
The desktop Siri will have a similar back-end to the Siri for iOS. Siri could be integrated into a standalone app that is invoked by a keyboard or mouse gesture. It could also be tasked to run in the background and wait for a voice command like the “Hey, Siri” activation in the upcoming iOS 8.
In some pages, the icon for ‘Siri’ is on the dock, telling the user it's active and ready. Hence, the user is able to take advantage of the assistant anywhere in the system.
The patent seems to indicate the assistant not only augmenting keyboard and mouse input, but sometimes outright replacing it. It will have the same input/response cycle with the Siri of iOS. However, with the additional computing power of a desktop, more advanced operations may be carried out.
An interesting application will be its use as a literal assistant which is titled “Using Digital Assistant as Third Hand” on the patent. Apple notes that multitasking functionality is somewhat limited on current desktops, restricted to one window at a time.
To ensure unbroken focus, let’s say, while writing an article for an online publication, you may need to change windows to your web browser to search for pertinent pictures. The new virtual assistant allows you to simply ask it for help and it will automatically feed you results, and you won't need to switch from your text editor.
This feature is still far from ready for public consumption unfortunately. Recent Yosemite betas have no indication of such features at all and it is unlikely to roll out in OS X.
READ MORE: Mac OS X Yosemite hands-on preview