Siri may soon help users buy stuff online

Jan 20, 2012
Tech

Apple’s Siri voice-activated personal assistant software already is pretty handy with finding local businesses, making calls, searching the Internet and delivering information to users. But pretty soon, Siri might make it possible for users to make purchases using only their voices. According to a story from AppleInsider, Apple has filed a patent for Siri referring […]

Apple’s Siri voice-activated personal assistant software already is pretty handy with finding local businesses, making calls, searching the Internet and delivering information to users. But pretty soon, Siri might make it possible for users to make purchases using only their voices.

According to a story from AppleInsider, Apple has filed a patent for Siri referring to it as an “Intelligent Automated Assistant.” The latest filing includes a whole lot of information about Siri, including a rundown of both things that Siri is already capable of handling, as well as tasks Apple might give the software the power to execute in the future.

The patent suggests Siri will be capable of interacting with a number of outlets to help users make purchases. It’s likely Siri will be able to handle grabbing songs and renting movies from iTunes, for example, but Apple’s filing also mentions other potential purchases, such as DVDs, that iTunes can’t handle. For that, Siri would have to go to third-party stores like Amazon.com or Best Buy to complete the transactions, and perhaps Siri would be able to that, using just its voice-activated controls.

Siri already has some Best Buy integration: the app allows users to check inventory at nearby Best Buy stores when they’re interested in buying something. It’s possible that functionality could be extended in the future, as AppleInsider speculates, allowing users to initiate purchases at Best Buy through Siri and pick up their orders from stores. Amazon is specifically named in the filing as well, with an example Siri answer explaining all the various things that can be purchased from the online retailer, and then asking the user to respond with what he or she is searching.

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The more cool, impressive capabilities Apple can make available to Siri, the better. Clearly, the app has been a hit among users and helped to sell a ton of iPhone 4S models in the last few months. Siri has made a really big impression among mobile users and smartphone buyers, but the app is still technically a “beta” release, which suggests it has a long way to go.

If Apple wants Siri to keep bringing in the buyers, it needs to make the next iteration, which we’ll likely see on the iPhone 5, even cooler and more impressive than what’s available now. Making Siri able to complete your next Amazon purchase is a step in the right direction. Apple will likely want to come up with even more good ideas for its intelligent automated assistant during the rest of 2012, though.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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