Imagine an office full of people controlling their Apple iMacs by shouting into their iPhones: "Email John! No, not Juan. John! EMAIL John! NOT SHE-MALE John. STOP!"
Well, that dystopia could become reality if the US Patent Office rubber-stamps blueprints revealed online yesterday. The patent application, filed by Apple's Senior Manager of iPod Media Software Aram Lindahl, covers the use of "an electronic device" to control PCs, remote servers and even intelligent walls and tables via voice recognition. Yes, seriously.
Essentially it would bring Apple's smarmy speech-controlled search-engine bot Siri to the company's Mac OS X operating system, routed through an iPhone or another mobile device.
In its basic use case, the new tech focuses on iTunes, outlining how yelling into a mobe could encourage the iMac or computerised table to play a song. Other functions include updating calendars and finding nearby Italian restaurants - but with Siri already capable of updating fanbois' Facebook accounts among more useful stuff, El Reg can imagine whole swathes of emails, code, documents and presentations being produced with Siri. You'll also be able to buy stuff via the voice assistant:
These actions may include actions such as making adjustments to a database on the computing equipment, making online purchases, controlling equipment that is associated with or attached to the computing equipment, etc.
The peace'n'quiet-shattering tech takes into account the context of the commands: in other words, it'll suggest more songs like the one currently playing if necessary, or only recommend Italian restaurants near you, for example. You could control computers in the same room over a shared Wi-Fi connection or computers miles away from you over the cellular network.
The patent application was filed in May 2012, and although it doesn't specifically mention Siri by name the patent is clearly all about Apple's gabble-bot.
The benefits of controlling computers by speech seem small compared to the annoyance of having to put up with other people barking at their desks, but given that the uptake of Siri on iPhone has been slow, it may be that Siri on Mac won't go mainstream for a long time, even if the patent is granted.
The patent application, spotted by PatentlyApple, is assigned to Lindahl rather than Apple itself, possibly a move to avoid media attention. ®