Innovation

Siri may become a better business tool by giving smart replies to declined calls

A new Apple patent application shows how Siri could offer a reason as to why someone's call was declined via text message.

Siri may soon make declining calls easier by sending the caller a text message explaining why the recipient was unable to pick up the phone, according to an Apple patent application filed Thursday.

This feature could be especially helpful for business professionals who spend a lot of time in meetings or traveling. The patent describes how, when a call comes in, Siri could determine what the user is doing at the time, such as if the phone is in Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode, or if they are using a fitness monitoring app and in the middle of a workout. Siri would then craft a text message using that information to send to the caller if the call is declined. The user would be able to check the message first to make sure it's okay to send.

Right now, when a user receives a phone call, the only options are typically to accept or decline the call, the patent noted. However, "a simple declining of the call does not provide any information to the caller regarding the user's status or the reason why the user cannot answer the call," the patent stated. "For example, the caller may not know whether the user declines the call because the user is driving, attending a meeting, or simply does not want to pick up the call. It is thus desirable for provide a digital assistant that can enable intelligent declining of an incoming call in a more informative and communicative manner."

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The system could potentially be used with iPhones as well as with CarPlay, according to the drawings found in the application. One drawing shows a call from a spouse coming in while driving, after which Siri could create a message saying that the user is driving home, and how long it will be until they arrive.

Siri would be able to craft messages based on the caller's relationship to the user, the patent showed. For example, a call from the user's boss would offer the street name as their destination, rather than "home," as noted by Apple Insider.

It's important to note that this is only a patent application for now, and does not mean that Apple will necessarily create this feature for Siri. But it could be a benefit for business users if the company does pursue it.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • On Thursday, Apple filed a patent application for a system allowing Siri to generate text messages for users who declines a call that offer the caller a reason why.
  • The feature could be good for business users who spend a lot of time in meetings or traveling.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/Wachiwit

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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