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Apple patent indicates expansion of Siri

Could the Apple stork be bringing a baby brother or sister for Siri?

In a patent application released by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the Cupertino firm details technology for an "intelligent automated system [that] engages with the user in an integrated, conversational manner using language dialog, and invokes external services when appropriate to obtain information or perform various actions."

In actuality, it seems from the 51-page application continuation originally filed in January 2011 that Apple is simply looking to officially patent its digital assistant, if not expand it.

The patent calls for system integration with different platforms, including the web, email, smartphones, and others – different from Siri's current iOS-only capabilities, and possibly a sign that rumours of Siri landing on iTunes and the Mac OS could be true.

It also reveals the company's intention of simplifying the use of intelligent automated assistants.

"Many users may have difficulty even discovering what functionality and/or information is available on their electronic devices or on various websites," the application said. "Thus, such users may become frustrated or overwhelmed, or may simply be unable to use the resources available to them in an effective manner."

For example, during a phone call, a user could tell Siri to "send him a text message," and the system would automatically understand that "him" is the person on the other end of the conversation.

While Siri already handles services like finding a restaurant or researching movie times, and taking notes or adding calendar events, e-commerce could be a new territory to explore. Online purchases (books, DVDs, music, etc.) and travel services (booking flights, hotels, attractions, and more) could be blended into an upgraded system.

Apple has not yet released any details regarding its alleged plans to expand Siri. Mostly recently, iOS 6 expanded access from the iPhone 4S (and iPhone 5) to the iPad.

The virtual assistant may be popular with iPhone users, but its founders have been dropping like Apple flies. Earlier this month, co-creator Adam Cheyer left the company, following an earlier exit by former Siri CEO Dag Kittlaus last year.

Yesterday, meanwhile, there were reports that Siri has been providing less than accurate weather forecasts.