Apple invention integrates Siri into iMessage, aids in peer-to-peer financial transactions

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2016
An Apple patent application published Thursday suggests the company is investigating the potential of integrating its Siri virtual assistant into Messages, with claims suggesting the feature might assist users with peer-to-peer payments.




As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's application for a "Virtual assistant in a communication session" grants iMessage users inline chat access to artificial intelligence software like Siri. In Messages, Siri would be able to automatically decipher incoming requests and complete tasks like scheduling appointments, providing navigation directions and retrieving movie times, among other functions.

In some embodiments, the implementation is similar to Google's incorporation of Google Assistant in the recently released Allo app. In particular, Apple's document notes users in chat sessions with two or more people can instantly access Siri by simply directing a message to the AI.

Using semantic analysis, the AI module detects that a user is invoking Siri and not another user. The message is parsed to suss out a potential task, which is subsequently carried out, if possible. Though detected messages are not displayed in the public chat feed, Siri is able to tap into data from iMessage participants to complete tasks.


Source: USPTO


For example, a first user might enter, "Siri, help us schedule a meeting," into the chat window to schedule an in-person meeting with other members of the Messages session. The assistant detects the message, classifies it a task, cross-references open calendar dates from all chat participants and suggests an appropriate meeting day and time.

In some embodiments, members of a chat will be notified that a user is utilizing a virtual assistant. Those who are not also using Siri can choose whether they, too, would like to activate AI functionality. Additionally, Messages participants are able to approve or deny AI accesses to personal data during the communications session.




Other examples show Siri pulling data directly from an ongoing chat session. In one case, Siri is asked to schedule dinner for participants in an iMessage conversation. The assistant -- with permission from chat members -- accesses location data from each member and offers a selection of nearby restaurants as an in-chat poll. Participants then vote for a preferred time and place, and Siri schedules the reservation, adding the appointment to their respective calendars.

Interestingly, Apple's document makes specific mention of potential peer-to-peer payment functionality. In particular, the invention suggests an in-app virtual assistant can be used to facilitate financial transactions by determining which financial apps are available or utilized by each chat member. Payments are double checked and authorized via Touch ID.

A safe choice for would be to restrict payments Apple Pay, though such features are not currently offered by the fledgling service. Instead, the filing hands transfer duties over to third-party finance apps.




In-app access to virtual assistant software is not a new idea -- companies like Slack have been doing it for some time. Apple arguably popularized AI assistants with Siri, but the company's ongoing quest for data privacy precluded most third-party apps from integrating services, thereby limiting its utility. It was only with the launch of iOS 10 in September that developers were granted access to Siri APIs.

As it applies to today's patent application, certain financial firms like PayPal already integrate Siri functionality, but are limited to Siri's dedicated software module.

Given Siri's quickly expanding ecosystem, it is plausible Apple might one day soon unite the worlds of chat, virtual assistants and payments into Messages, and perhaps beyond. Notably, Siri has been able to process typed commands for over two years, suggesting a jump to a text-based app like Messages would be a relatively straightforward transition. Still, whether the company intends to bring a consumer solution to market in the near term remains unknown.

Apple's patent application covering Siri integration for iMessage was first filed for in May 2015 and credits Mehul K. Sanghavi and Jeffrey P. Schwerdtfeger as its inventors.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    At this point, I'd be better served by being able to say: "Flashlight on", and being not greeted with "that's beyond my capabilities at the moment."
    boboliciousgoodbyeranchbrian green
  • Reply 2 of 9
    "the company's ongoing quest for data privacy precluded most third-party apps from integrating services, thereby limiting its utility. It was only with the launch of iOS 10 in September that developers were granted access to Siri APIs"

    So has development pressure potentially reduced user privacy in iOS 10? Is this effectively a condition precedent for the development & future integration (or infiltration?) of 'AI' ?

    Does this affect MacOS as well with the addition of Siri & Photos automatic always on image scanning and tagging ?

    Does the imminent change in governance make such considerations more important?

    If so, can anyone suggest a way to turn the latter off if, ie. if buying new hardware that requires Sierra, or an alternative app for Photos ?

    edited November 2016
  • Reply 3 of 9
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,150member
    Apple patenting anything seems almost pointless if not counter productive.  Google and others seem to have had zero problem, if a few court cases, copying every single thing Apple has ever done sooner or later.  In fact I suspect the old joke about Microsoft's R&D department was Apple has now morphed into Apple's patent department is now Google's R&D department.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    Apple patenting anything seems almost pointless if not counter productive.  Google and others seem to have had zero problem, if a few court cases, copying every single thing Apple has ever done sooner or later.  In fact I suspect the old joke about Microsoft's R&D department was Apple has now morphed into Apple's patent department is now Google's R&D department.
    Using the word "invention" is misleading.
  • Reply 5 of 9
    Apple patenting anything seems almost pointless if not counter productive.  Google and others seem to have had zero problem, if a few court cases, copying every single thing Apple has ever done sooner or later.  In fact I suspect the old joke about Microsoft's R&D department was Apple has now morphed into Apple's patent department is now Google's R&D department.
    Yet wasn't it maybe 6 months ago facebook chatbot transactions was newsworthy? As much as I appreciate Apple, it is not a magical fountain of pure originality from which all others drink.
  • Reply 6 of 9
    Apple patenting anything seems almost pointless if not counter productive.  Google and others seem to have had zero problem, if a few court cases, copying every single thing Apple has ever done sooner or later.  In fact I suspect the old joke about Microsoft's R&D department was Apple has now morphed into Apple's patent department is now Google's R&D department.
    Yet wasn't it maybe 6 months ago facebook chatbot transactions was newsworthy? As much as I appreciate Apple, it is not a magical fountain of pure originality from which all others drink.
    Siri integration for iMessage was first filed for in May 2015
    edited November 2016 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 9
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,150member
    brikobn said:
    Apple patenting anything seems almost pointless if not counter productive.  Google and others seem to have had zero problem, if a few court cases, copying every single thing Apple has ever done sooner or later.  In fact I suspect the old joke about Microsoft's R&D department was Apple has now morphed into Apple's patent department is now Google's R&D department.
    Using the word "invention" is misleading.
    Hence I only referred to patenting not inventing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    I want to hear Siri try to break tongue on my origin language that is not yet on the list of languagaes to choose from while 40 million people in Europe speak in it.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    It's very difficult to see how these types of things can be patented when they are so obvious and have been used in plenty of sci fi books and films. I'm struggling to see how this is different to e.g. Allo or sending money in Gmail or the numerous other apps. Perhaps a slightly different implementation but enough to issue a patent? Anyway, I'm looking forward to the day when an assistant is always listening - yes, I'll give up my privacy - and it can proactively give answers when I look like I'm struggling. If I commit to something when I already have something in my calendar, it'll tell me in my ear, if I'm talking to my wife about dinner, it'll offer to make reservations, if the price on something I want drops, it'll alert me. There are so many potential applications at work too, having an assistant listening to every call to answer questions, take notes, schedule meetings or pipe in with information. We are still a few years away but not many
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