Siri rivals like the new Google Assistant are now available inside messaging apps, allowing you to quickly get useful information on the go. Now Apple has patented a method of integrating Siri into iMessage that will provide similar functionality.
The patent is titled “Virtual assistant in a communication session,” and it was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week. It describes a way of enabling users to communicate with Siri by text message inside iMessage conversations.
Apple explains how Siri could be used to answer questions, schedule appointments, complete simple tasks, fetch navigation directions, and even send money. The company also notes how the assistant can be activated within chats with two or more people.
“Using semantic analysis, the AI module detects that a user is invoking Siri and not another user,” explains AppleInsider. “The message is parsed to suss out a potential task, which is subsequently carried out, if possible.”
Siri doesn’t display its responses to all users — just the one who interacted with it. However, it can read messages and other data from all users within the conversation to carry out requests and complete tasks.
For instance, if you ask Siri to schedule an appointment with other members of the group, it has the ability to check the calendars of all participants to suggest a date and time that suits everyone. In some instances, members will be notified that Siri wants to access their data.
In one embodiment, Siri is used to schedule a dinner date. It is able to establish to location of all chat members — with their permission — then find a restaurant located nearby. It can then establish when each member is free and make a reservation.
Apple also mentions how Siri could be used inside a chat window to initiate peer-to-peer payments. It uses apps installed on the iPhone — such as PayPal or Venmo — to facilitate the payment, and users can authorize it using Touch ID.
This is made possible by the changes made in iOS 10, which finally opened Siri to third-party applications and services. However, this patent was first filed in May 2015.
Like all Apple patents, this isn’t a guarantee of things to come, but it gives us an idea of what the company is working on behind the scenes. It’s also an idea that makes perfect sense — especially if Apple wants to catch up with the likes of Google Assistant.