Apple's Siri could decline phone calls with context-sensitive text responses in the future...

Posted:
in iOS edited May 27
Declining a call on an iPhone could be a more pleasant experience in the future for both parties, with Apple looking into ways for Siri to help provide the caller with a reason for why the call was rejected in a text message.




Current incoming call interfaces are relatively limited, providing basic options to answer or reject the call. For important contacts or family members, there is sometimes a need to advise the caller why the call cannot be answered, usually by text messages, but at the same time the recipient may not be in a position to write a custom message out in the first place, let alone sending a default unavailable response.

An Apple patent application published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for "Intelligent Digital Assistant for Declining an Incoming Call" aims to fix the problem by having Siri or another digital assistant automatically work out why the call cannot be accepted.

According to the application, the process starts when an incoming video or voice call is detected, prompting the digital assistant to attempt to acquire as much data about the user's situation as possible. This can include the user's location data, if the iPhone is in Do Not Disturb or another operating mode, or even data from third-party apps that are used for specific purposes, such as a fitness monitoring app detecting the user is in the middle of a workout.




Combining all this data together, the digital assistant can work out what the user is doing currently, and can create a message using that information. The generated message can be provided to the user to check that it is fine to send, before it is dispatched to the caller.

Images supplied in the patent application also suggest the system could be used with CarPlay as well as an iPhone, with the message and basic interface shown on the car infotainment unit's display. In example shown in the illustrations, a call from a spouse while in transit could generate a message stating the user is driving home, adding how long it will be until they arrive.

As the system would be able to detect the caller's relationship to the user, the messages will be tailored appropriately. While the call from the marital partner may reference "home" if it is the determined destination, a call from the user's boss while on the same journey could omit the reference, and instead state the street name for where the driver is going.




In each case, the system would provide the user with multiple message options, offering a few different ways to pass the message on depending on the user's wishes. The interface will also include options to answer or decline the call, if the person is still attempting to call them.

Apple is known for filing large numbers of patent applications for potential products, many of which do not end up being used in consumer products. In this case, a software-based solution that uses existing technologies in its task, it is plausible such a feature could be included in a future version of Siri, Apple's own digital assistant.

Distracted driving has been a problem for quite a few years, and one that Apple has already attempted to solve. Do Not Disturb While Driving was introduced as part of iOS 11, with the system attempts to minimize distractions from message notifications while the user is in a vehicle.

A study published in April 2018 suggests Do Not Disturb While Driving has made a small difference in U.S. driver habits since its introduction, reportedly reducing the amount of iPhone use while at the wheel by around 8 percent.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    asciiascii Posts: 5,634member
    You really want a way for people to know you're unavailable to take a call before they dial, rather than letting them try first only to get fobbed off by a robot.
    mattinoz
  • Reply 2 of 14
    wigbywigby Posts: 668member
    ascii said:
    You really want a way for people to know you're unavailable to take a call before they dial, rather than letting them try first only to get fobbed off by a robot.
    So you want telemarketers to know when you're available and when you're not? What we really need is simply a way to reliably identity the party on the other end before we even know they are contacting us. Then let our VIP contact list take it from there.

    This is a story floated by Apple anyway for general feedback and discussion - a response to Google's Duplex.


    bdkennedy1002lolliverGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 14
    adm1adm1 Posts: 808member
    Meh, I'll be interested when Siri answers the call for you and decides whether to put it through or just takes the person's details and message. Acting like a true personal assistant.
    SnickersMagoopslicefrantiseklolliverGeorgeBMacdamn_its_hot
  • Reply 4 of 14
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 295member
    I was thinking about such things years ago to Siri answer by voice phone calls based on calendar schedule or just pick up call and read preselected answer,
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 14
    I can't believe that something like this could be patented. It'd take five minutes to develop this, maybe even in IFTTT.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    Siri is 6 year old hot garbage tech. You can’t shine a turd.
    bdkennedy1002
  • Reply 7 of 14
    There’s no trust anymore.
  • Reply 8 of 14
    klf555klf555 Posts: 2member
    I would recommend a picture of someone looking at a message not in a car and possibly driving. 
  • Reply 9 of 14
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,365member
    Great, but I'd just love for something much simpler from iOS/Siri to support auto-checking if a call is from a reputable number and alerting me if it's not.

    I don't inherently distrust services like Nomorobo or Hiya, but I don't want to give them access to my contacts or every incoming call data.
  • Reply 10 of 14
    wigbywigby Posts: 668member
    klf555 said:
    I would recommend a picture of someone looking at a message not in a car and possibly driving. 
    The patent includes images depicting CarPlay so I think the bloggers are all going with that angle for now.
  • Reply 11 of 14
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,606member
    wigby said:
    ascii said:
    You really want a way for people to know you're unavailable to take a call before they dial, rather than letting them try first only to get fobbed off by a robot.
    So you want telemarketers to know when you're available and when you're not? What we really need is simply a way to reliably identity the party on the other end before we even know they are contacting us. Then let our VIP contact list take it from there.

    This is a story floated by Apple anyway for general feedback and discussion - a response to Google's Duplex.


    More a response to Google's Smart Replies IMO.
  • Reply 12 of 14
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,606member
    Lots of people still use land lines especially for business. Sending a text message to a land line will result in some sort of error.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    asciiascii Posts: 5,634member
    wigby said:
    ascii said:
    You really want a way for people to know you're unavailable to take a call before they dial, rather than letting them try first only to get fobbed off by a robot.
    So you want telemarketers to know when you're available and when you're not? What we really need is simply a way to reliably identity the party on the other end before we even know they are contacting us. Then let our VIP contact list take it from there.

    This is a story floated by Apple anyway for general feedback and discussion - a response to Google's Duplex.


    I was thinking something along the lines of, when you're unavailable, your phone syncs this information to your people in your contacts list through iCloud, so e.g. a red icon appears over your name when they go to dial you.
  • Reply 14 of 14
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 847member
    wigby said:
    ascii said:
    You really want a way for people to know you're unavailable to take a call before they dial, rather than letting them try first only to get fobbed off by a robot.
    So you want telemarketers to know when you're available and when you're not? What we really need is simply a way to reliably identity the party on the other end before we even know they are contacting us. Then let our VIP contact list take it from there.

    This is a story floated by Apple anyway for general feedback and discussion - a response to Google's Duplex.


    In that case Apple should work with Local "do not call" registers, let people sign in to the register via an interface on their phone. Afterwards block all telemarketing numbers not connected to the user with a message the number is marked do not call. Build a iCloud Do not call list to track new telemarketing numbers as they crop up.  
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