Apple patent could allow Siri to identify your sweet dulcet tones

Apple has filed a patent that could give Siri the ability to recognize the voice of the person speaking to it.

Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, rolled out way back on iOS 5 and allows you to interact with your iPhone using your voice. 

For the first couple of years it struggled slightly, mostly being used to make your iPhone say funny things, but more recently Siri has started to find its feet and now a patent has come to light that could mean very exciting things.

The patent, unearthed by the team over at Patently Apple, reveals that Apple is working on a new security feature that will identify the acoustic properties of the user's voice before allowing them to use assistant.

Successfully implemented, this would allow Siri to use your voice as a 'voiceprint'. 

Speak to unlock

At the moment Siri can respond to your commands, but doesn't know for sure if it's you speaking, leaving Apple products potentially vulnerable to manipulation from others. 

There have historically been issues with Siri being used as a back door to get in behind Apple’s security measures, which are otherwise very robust.

While software updates have removed many of these vulnerabilities, there is still the possibility for Siri to leak private information without someone entering a password or providing a valid fingerprint.

As a security feature, voice recognition would be a very interesting proposition. 

With Siri used across a variety of Apple devices, the ability for it to identify who is currently speaking would help it tailor responses to different family members, while having a 'voiceprint' linked to the Appstore could give you the ability to securely make purchases using just your voice.

There have been rumors of similar developments in both the Google and Amazon camps with the Google Home and Alexa respectively. If our information is correct and Apple is planning on launching a competitor at WWDC, then this development for Siri makes a lot of sense. 

All we have at present is a patent application though, so there is no guarantee that we will see this roll out, but as Apple filed it in the second quarter of 2016, a launch with the new iOS at WWDC 2017 in June would make sense. 

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.