Apple has applied for a patent (via AppleInsider) for a dock that lives at a user’s home, designed to work with an iOS device’s Siri function and make them into an always-on assistant with smart home potential. The dock would essentially work by giving an iOS device a larger touchscreen interface, speakers and a microphone for at-home use, effectively turning it into a car-style infotainment system designed for domestic use.
The dock would in theory operate like current iterations, but with the difference that it could be always listening for voice commands from a user. So you could set up a prompt (the patent makes this user controlled), such as a finger snap or specific word to start Siri listening and issue commands. Might I suggest “Okay, Siri”?
This would allow people to casually add events to their schedule, phone people, look up things or do whatever else you may want to accomplish with Siri, but while in the kitchen making dinner or in front of the TV relaxing with a book. The dock may not even require a phone to be physically connected: The patent includes provisions for a wireless feature that would make it a sort of remote speaker/interface (you can imagine using AirPlay for screen functions, too) and there’s even one incarnation that uses inductive wireless charging for a device placed on top.
Siri input has been rumored for Apple TVs, both those that exist and those that are merely fictional, in the past, but this invention would arguably be better since it could work with existing setups and transform your home into a Siri-powered smart control center in one step. Plus, with Apple’s iOS in the Car initiative, it would allow for seamless transition from mobile, to auto, to condo, which would really help Apple amp up the data capture and service improvement on Siri, and help users get more from the personal assistant. As with all patents, this one may never see the light of day, but it does present a piece of the puzzle that seems to fit with Apple’s larger strategic goals.