Apple to patent the "Intelligent Automated Assistant"
The beefy application thoroughly explains how such a service would work, including details on how it uses external stuff like email, the web and maps in order to provide relevant information and help the user accomplish what they are after, such as getting directions, making a reservation and so on.
What's more interesting to us is whether or not this should concern Google, Samsung and everybody else who plans to offer such a feature. Samsung's S Voice is already dangerously close to what Apple's describing in its patent, but our guess is that there won't be any sirious (ha!) consequences in the long term. We might see a lawsuit or two, but as we already know, this can't really hurt anybody.
Here's the abstract from Apple's patent application:
source: USPTO via Engadget