Apple patent shows Siri providing smart replies when you can’t answer the phone

Apple is exploring ways that Siri could play a helpful role in explaining why you had to decline a phone call. As AppleInsider notes, a new patent shows that by factoring in context (such as your iPhone’s location or whether Do Not Disturb is enabled) and analyzing who the call is from, Siri might be able to produce custom responses that are more specific to your current situation than the canned messages you can send now when rejecting a call.

Images in the patent application show Siri pulling from Apple Maps and suggesting a smart reply that includes the street you’re on and how long it’ll take to reach your destination. That could be useful if you’re running late for a week meeting or dinner plans. Another identifies the caller’s boss and presents similar location-based responses — but without mentioning “home” as it did in the other conversation. Apple shows several examples of the feature that involve CarPlay.

The company already offers a list of simple, generic responses that you can pick when a call comes in that you can’t or don’t want to answer. The Do Not Disturb While Driving feature introduced in iOS 11 can automatically alert a caller that the reason you’re unavailable is that you’re behind the wheel. Apple is seemingly trying to make those messages a bit smarter and more situation-specific. Google has also been working to offer smart replies across many of its own apps and on Android.

Apple’s “Intelligent Digital Assistant for Declining an Incoming Call” patent was filed in late 2016. It hasn’t been turned into an actual iOS feature yet, but who knows what’s ahead at WWDC, which is less than two weeks away.

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