What Siri will do next only Apple knows, but we just got a few hints.
A handful of future features headed to the software may have been outed in a new patent application, primarily that the sassy assistant could be headed to Web and e-mail platforms, and eventually help you buy things, control your home thermostat, and weigh in during conversations.
That application, published this morning by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and picked up by Patently Apple, details an "Intelligent Automated Assistant." The filing, dated January 2011, comes some nine months after Apple's acquisition of Siri the company, and includes numerous diagrams of the software in use.
In the application's abstract, Apple describes its invention as a tool that "engages with the user in an integrated, conversational manner using natural language dialogue," while making use of "external services when appropriate to obtain information or perform various actions."
That's Siri as we know it, the virtual assistant that translates user voice requests into actions--functionality that first appeared in Siri the app, and later extended to Apple's implementation of it in the iPhone 4S. Some of those external services have been tools like Yelp and Wolfram Alpha.
Where things get interesting is when Apple details where such a tool could be used.… Read more