Apple's smart call waiting system automatically puts incoming calls on hold, supports voice to text

in General Discussion edited January 2014
A filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday revealed Apple's invention for an intelligent call waiting system that uses contextual clues to play back pre-defined "please hold" messages or translate voice mails into text.

Apple's patent, titled "Dynamic context-based auto-response generation" covers a system in which a phone holds an incoming call when the user is temporarily unavailable, playing back pre-recorded messages based on a determined situation or manual input.

The application builds on the current call-waiting features implemented in iOS 6, which offer users the option of denying an incoming call with a preset text message or simply sending it straight to voicemail, by automatically putting calls on hold without forcing a user to break communication with their original caller.

In its simplest iteration, the invention covers an automated solution that places an incoming call on hold if a user is temporarily busy. For example, if the user is already using the phone, the incoming caller will hear a pre-recorded message asking them to hold on the line until the initial call is completed. These custom messages can be played back in accordance to a set of rules defined by the user or in response to a given situation, an example being a meeting.

Another embodiment calls for the playback of a message that requests the caller to speak, at which point a speech-to-text converter will translate and display the incoming caller's message on the device's screen. A user can then take action by either texting back or selecting another recorded message to ask the caller to hold. Once again, the pre-recorded message will be played either automatically or through manual input by the user.

The patent also allows for an estimated hold time to be entered through an on-screen user interface, with the corresponding information being relayed to the incoming caller who can choose to leave a message or call back.

As for automation, the system can use a device's internal sensors, such as an accelerometer or GPS, to determine when to play certain recordings. For example, if it is determined that a user is driving or participating in some other activity that would preclude them to answer a call, a message may ask the caller to leave a voice mail. Alternatively, a device equipped with a GPS module can recognize when a user is in the conference room of their office, suggesting that a business meeting is taking place, and choose to ask the caller to hold.

The patent was filed in June and is attributed to Craig A. Peitrow and Carlos M. Salinas.
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