Jan. 19, 2012 at 4:41 PM ET
Siri is going to become even more seriously useful in the future, including letting users order goods from online sites, and expand her presence from just the iPhone 4S to other Apple devices, including the iPad, its computers and even that much-rumored Apple iTV.
The company filed a new patent Thursday for transforming its virtual assistant into an "Intelligent Automated Assistant," one that would become even more indispensable than some iPhone users say she already is.
Right now, Siri doesn't let users "complete transactions with online stores. The voice-driven personal assistant software will respond with 'Sorry, I can't purchase that.'" said Apple Insider. "But Apple's latest patent filing specifically highlights e-commerce as a key function of its 'Intelligent Automated Assistant' The application notes that Siri could be used for 'online purchases of items such as books, DVDs, music and the like.'"
Patently Apple, a website that writes in depth about the company's patent applications, said that "it's clear that Apple's breakthrough technology is destined to go far beyond the iPhone and into devices like the iMac and a future HDTV."
The patent "shows us that Siri will be able to be configured to work with various new scenarios and even act as an instructor when we purchase future devices," the website said. "Forget using a manual — as Siri will simply teach us what we'll want to know about our new devices when we're ready to ask it a question about a new function or feature."
Patently Apple notes:
Apple's patent application lists a great number of devices beyond the iPhone that Siri may service in the future. They include the iPod Touch (a personal digital assistant), iMac (desktop computer), MacBook (laptop computer), iPad (tablet computer), consumer electronic devices, consumer entertainment devices; iPod (music player); camera; television; Apple TV (set-top box); electronic gaming unit; kiosk or the like.
And that coincides nicely with Apple's Thursday announcement that it is "reinventing the textbook" using the iPad, say some observers.
"Imagine a day in the not-too-distant future when a student will simply ask Siri a question about what their lesson is about and get an answer or tutorial to make that lesson more real and relevant to the student," wrote Patently Apple's Jack Purcher.
That could prove to be a real boon — or boondoggle — in the world of education.