An Apple patent published by the USPTO on Aug. 7 revealed extensive details about how Siri could work on a Mac desktop, which would assist users with writing and sending emails, and editing, organising, and searching through documents.
But what’s interesting about the Siri patent, as Patently Apple points out, is that it calls for a “touch-sensitive” desktop, which could mean Apple plans to release a Mac with a touchscreen at some point in the future.
The patent application describes how “the user manipulates the user interface objects, optionally, by providing various touch-based inputs (e.g., a tap gesture, swipe gestures, and various other single or multitouch gestures) on a touch sensitive display screen.”
So how would that work in practice? The patent describes how a desktop user would draw two full circles on the screen to call up Siri, “because if the user changes their mind during the drawing of the first circle, then the user is able to easily abandon the call for Siri by simply lifting their finger,” according to Patently Apple.
The concept of a touchscreen Mac isn’t necessarily new, even though Apple executives say its touchscreen-based mobile operating system, iOS, will never join its desktop operating system, OS X. In August 2010, a European patent filed by Apple in 2009 described a computer that could transition between a mouse-based interface and “a low-resolution input mode, such as a touch-based interface,” which is accomplished “based on the detected change of orientation.”
This would mean, however, that Apple would need to build a touchscreen Mac, which is something the company has never done before; its largest touchscreen device is the 9.7-inch iPad Air. However, the new patent says users can also perform these Siri gestures on one of Apple’s “Magic Trackpads,” which could allow Siri to launch on the Mac before Apple releases a touchscreen desktop.
The patent also says, “In some embodiments, the touch-sensitive surface is provided through other peripheral devices such as a touch-sensitive surface on the backside of a touch-sensitive pointing device such as a touch-sensitive mouse,” meaning Apple’s Magic Mouse could also likely handle these gestures.
Whether or not Apple plans to actually release a touchscreen Mac anytime soon is anyone’s guess. But adding Siri to OS X could make Apple’s 14-year-old desktop platform much more powerful. According to the latest Apple patent, OS X users could use Siri to perform background searches for things like images and information while they stay engaged in their current application. For example, the patent shows a user writing a research paper about global warming and asking Siri to find a good picture of a “globe” to drop into the document.
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