An Apple patent (number 8296383) for electronic devices with voice command and contextual data processing capabilities has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The company is looking to beef up the ability of its iOS devices to handle voice-based commands.

Per the patent, an electronic device may capture a voice command from a user. The electronic device may store contextual information about the state of the electronic device when the voice command is received. The electronic device may transmit the voice command and the contextual information to computing equipment such as a desktop computer or a remote server.

The computing equipment may perform a speech recognition operation on the voice command and may process the contextual information. The computing equipment may respond to the voice command. The computing equipment may also transmit information to the electronic device that allows the electronic device to respond to the voice command.

Here’s Apple’s background on the invention: “This invention relates generally to electronic devices, and more particularly, to electronic devices such as portable electronic devices that can capture voice commands and contextual information.

“Electronic devices such as portable electronic devices are becoming increasingly popular. Examples of portable devices include handheld computers, cellular telephones, media players, and hybrid devices that include the functionality of multiple devices of this type. Popular portable electronic devices that are somewhat larger than traditional handheld electronic devices include laptop computers and tablet computers.

“Portable electronic devices such as handheld electronic devices may have limited speech recognition capabilities. For example, a cellular telephone may have a microphone that can be used to receive and process cellular telephone voice commands that control the operation of the cellular telephone.

“Portable electronic devices generally have limited processing power and are not always actively connected to remote databases and services of interest. Conventional devices are often not contextually aware. These shortcomings can make it difficult to use conventional portable electronic devices for sophisticated voice-based control functions. It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved systems for electronic devices such as portable electronic devices that handle voice-based commands.”

Aram M. Lindahl is the inventor.