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Apple patents idea to add Siri-powered chat bot into Messages app

A new patent from Apple has just surfaced, detailing an implementation of Siri into the iOS Messages app. This could mean we’ll soon get the ability to chat to Siri via text messages as well as voice – but why would Apple be interested in that?

Well, Siri is a really useful way to interact with an iPhone or iPad, but it has its limitations. A purely voice-based system can only go so far – not to mention the range of circumstances where it’s just not convenient or polite to talk out loud to a robot that lives in your phone. A text-based interface for Siri could fix these problems, and would double up as a good place to store a record of your past chats with the A.I.

The patent suggests that users would be able to chat with Siri via text, but also utilize the other functions of Messages like images and video. For example, you could send a photo of an insect and ask Siri to identify it, or show the virtual assistant your favorite bottle of wine and ask it to remember the brand for later reference. It might be the beginnings of computers taking over, but it sure would be convenient!

Chatting to Siri this way could have a lot of benefits

The whole thing sounds a lot like the implementation of Google Assistant in the big G’s chat app Allo (see our review for more details on that one.) That app hasn’t really taken off, but some of the ideas incorporated in there could make a lot of sense for Siri. One feature in particular that’s also mentioned in the patent is the ability to call in Siri to assist with something as part of a regular iMessage conversation with a fellow human. It could help find local restaurants if you’re talking about what to have for dinner, or book you an Uber – all in-line as part of a normal message conversation.

Similarly, Facebook Messenger includes “chat bots” for a variety of services, and there’s a growing trend towards this kind of A.I. text support. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple jump on board. Could we see these changes implemented in iOS 11 later this year? We’ll know for sure very soon – WWDC is just next month.

Read more: an exploration of Apple’s ideas for the future