Apple has patented a system which would allow for voice-based tagging and retrieval of photographs stored on iOS devices, according to a patent filing published today.

Spotted first by AppleInsider, the patent application was first made back in March this year and would allow for “a method for tagging or searching images using a voice-based digital assistant”, ie. Siri.

According to the filing, the system would be able to assign tags (using voice commands, and subsequently automatically) based on the people, locations or activity taking place in the photograph. The same terms could then be used for retrieval later.

Interestingly, in the background information supporting the application, Apple notes that “while photo capture and digital image storage technology has improved substantially over the past decade, traditional approaches to photo-tagging can be non-intuitive, arduous, and time-consuming”.

So, instead of manually tagging each of your images using labels or keywords, Apple wants you to be able to say something like “this is me at the beach” and have Siri understand and tag the photo with the relevant information. More than that though, it wants other inferred information, such as who the “me” refers to in the previous sentence, to also be included.

“Once a photograph is tagged using the disclosed tagging techniques, other photographs that are similar may be automatically tagged with the same or similar information, thus obviating the need to tag every similar photograph individually,” the filing says.

To retrieve the stored images, all the user would then need to do is say “show me photos of me at the beach” to return all the automatically tagged pictures.

Although we don’t know if or when we will see a feature like this shipping as part of Siri’s core capabilities, it’s certainly a good idea – anything that provides an easy way to keep some control over the massive amount of photos being taken every day would be welcomed.

Featured Image Credit – Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images