Siri was introduced to iPhone 4S users nearly one year ago, and a lengthy patent claiming ownership over the voice-activated personal assistant has just been discovered. The paperwork describes Siri in general terms as iOS uses have come to know her, referring to the technology as an “Intelligent Automated Assistant.”
The document filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office but obtained and published by Apple Insider on Thursday, describes Siri as a system that “engages with the user in an integrated, conversational manner using natural dialog, and invokes external services when appropriate to obtain information or perform various actions.”
The filing, initally submitted by Apple this past June, was published by the USPTO this week and is the continuation of an application filed in Januray 2011.
The text includes many features that are already present in Siri, and provides a screenshot of the original iOS application that Apple had acquired. Before Siri was integrated into iOS devices as native software, Apple had planned to offer it as a third-party application available for purchase in the App Store.
Although the patent application gave users a look into Siri’s origins, it also peeked into the software’s future.
MORE SIRI INTEGRATION?
Siri saw some noteworthy improvements in iOS 6, such as the ability to retrieve sports stats, movie and actor information, the ability to make restaurant reservations via OpenTable, and more. However, this may only represent the beginning of Apple’s personalized software, as the patent application hints.
The document insinuates that Siri will play a more significant role in iOS-enabled devices, acting as a central hub for information requests and task completion. Apple notes that applications found on “complex smartphones” each have their own user interface, which can be overwhelming for some users.
“Many users may have difficulty even discovering what functionality and/or information is available on their electronic devices or on various websites,” the filing reads. “Thus, such users may become frustrated over, overwhelmed, or may simply be unable to use the resources available to them in an effective manner.”
According to the filing, Siri can be considered Apple’s solution to this issue, making it simple for users to perform actions while maintaining the features of advanced applications. Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch described Apple’s view of Siri as a “Grand Central Station” for iOS devices, with the software acting as a single entity that takes care of the “how” aspect of retrieving information.
Apple also lists the categories in which Siri can deliver information, such as notes, calendar events, travel info, and online purchases. Most of these are already integrated into Siri’s functionality, but Apple had also mentioned categories that aren’t currently available through Siri’s selection of services, including online book and DVD purchases and hotel booking information.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MARKING TERRITORY
With the constant intellectual property tug-of-war between Apple and Samsung, it’s no surprise that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is filing a detailed patent for ownership of Siri.
Apple recently triumphed over the Korean manufacturer following a dispute over design patents for rectangular “electronic” devices. The iPhone creator claimed a staggering $1.05 billion in damages, The Los Angeles Times reports, intending to stop Samsung from selling rectangular products such as the new Galaxy tablet and its line of Android-based smartphones.
Apple and Samsung are arguably the two largest competitors in the mobile industry arms race, with each of their respective platforms offering similar functionality with different strengths and weaknesses. For example, Apple’s Siri is more audible and responds quicker than S-Voice, but Samsung’s equivalent provides more accurate geographical searches, critics have said.
Siri appears to be a long-term endeavor for the computer design company, and with a document exceeding 50-pages in length, Apple seems eager to patent each aspect of these various functionalities. If Apple could win an intellectual property case claiming ownership over rectangular electronic devices, it could certainly do the same with its voice-controlled software. That being said, Samsung may need to be wary if it plans to add improvements and features to its similar "S Voice" feature.
The Siri patent filing could also be a response to Motorola Mobility’s recent infringement lawsuit against Apple, which targeted Siri, location reminders, email notifications and video playback features in August.