Apple looks at ‘intelligent list reading’ feature for Siri

Apple is considering an “intelligent list reading” feature for Siri, its personal digital assistant, as evidenced by a new patent filing (number 20190147880).

In the patent filing, the tech giant notes that interactions with digital assistants care usually voice-based, where the user provides a spoken user request and the digital assistant replies with a spoken response that satisfies the request. However, Apple says that providing intuitive and natural-sounding voice-based interactions with a digital assistant can be challenging. 

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For example, spoken responses can often contain too little or too much information. Additionally, spoken responses can have awkward transitions and can force the user into one or more unproductive follow-up interactions. This can impact user experience and hinder the widespread adoption of digital assistants. Apple wants the spoken response generated by Siri to be “intelligently constructed based on the degree of specificity of the spoken user request.”

Here’s the summary of the invention: “Systems and processes for operating an intelligent automated assistant to perform intelligent list reading are provided. In one example process, a spoken user request associated with a plurality of data items is received. The process determines whether a degree of specificity of the spoken user request is less than a threshold level. In response to determining that a degree of specificity of the spoken user request is less than a threshold level, one or more attributes related to the spoken user request are determined. 

“The one or more attributes are not defined in the spoken user request. Additionally, a list of data items based on the spoken user request and the one or more attributes is obtained. A spoken response comprising a subset of the list of data items is generated and the spoken response is provided.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.