While she has her quirks, Siri is a pretty nice assistant to have around. In the current version of iOS 5, Siri can work with your Phone, iPod, Messages, Calendar, Reminders, Maps, Email, Weather, Stocks, Clock, Address Book, Find My Friends, and Notes applications. She can also perform Web Searches, and retrieve answers to questions from the WolframAlfa website.
Let’s learn how to use Siri
We will start with the settings. Go to Settings > General > Siri and make sure the “Siri” toggle is set to “On”. Below that you have four more options.
The first is Language. Currently the options are Australian, UK, and US Englis, French, German, and Japanese. The second is Voice Feedback. If you would like Siri to give a verbal response for you every question, leave this set to Always. If you only want to hear her when you are using a hands free device set it to Handsfree Only. The third is My Info. If you want Siri to know your name, where you live, and where you work (for location based reminders, directions, etc), add your personal contact info. When you tap My Info it will take you to your contacts where you can choose your contact info. The final option is Raise to Speak. This option activates Siri when you bring the phone up to your ear as though you were making a phone call. It started driving me crazy so I turned it off.
Here is a little bonus tip I’ve tweeted about before. You can make Siri say anything you want. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speak Selection and turn it on. Adjust Siri’s rate of speech to the desired rate. Now, when you highlight text, you will get “Speak” in addition to the Copy, Cut, etc. Tap speak to hear Siri say what you have highlighted.
Ask Siri something:
When you need somehting from Siri, hold the home button down for a few seconds. The bottom of you screen will slide up and you will see a microphone appear. You will also hear two quick beeps. Start speaking after the beeps. “Remind me to feed the dogs when I get home” will set a reminder in the reminders app that will alert you when you arrive at the address you have listed in your personal contact info.
Siri will also work with a Bluetooth headset or the provided headphones your iPhone comes with. Just hold down the call button on the Bluetooth or the center button on the headphones for a few seconds until you hear the double beep.
If you pause for too long in your dialog with Siri, she tends to cut you off thinking that you are done with what you want to say. This can get annoying at times, so know what you want to say and how you are going to say it. If you have a lot of background noise, Siri may keep listening and not process your request. If this is the case, tap the microphone icon when you are done speaking.
Call my wife:
Siri can learn who your relatives are as well. Tell Siri, “Call my wife.” If this is the first time you have asked Siri to do this, she will ask who your wife is. Once you tell her, she will remember. The same works with “Call my Dad, Mom, brother, etc…”. This works by adding a “Nickname” field to the person’s contact info.
Probably the thing I use Siri for most. Where ever you can enter text, you can dictate. I mostly use dictation for text messaging. I’m a fairly fast at typing on the iPhone, and dictation is still a lot faster. Especially for those occasional lengthy text messages.
If you look at the keyboard, just left of the space bar, you will see a microphone key. Tap it, wait for a single beep, and begin speaking. When you are done speaking, tap the “Done” button and Siri will enter what you said.
It does take some getting used to. Unless you are ok with run-on sentences, you will have to make some verbal adjustments. To say, “I had a great time. Let’s do it again!”, you have to tell Siri, “I had a great time period let’s do it again exclamation point”. I found a list of Siri dictation commands that is very extensive.
A few final things:
Siri needs internet access to work. And the lower the signal, whether it’s Wi-Fi or cellular, the longer she will take. Also, in order for Siri to help with things like direction, location-based reminders, and finding nearby places, you need to turn your Location Services on. Go to Settings > Location Services and make sure it’s turned on. Then scroll down to Siri and make sure that slider is set to on as well. Finally, if you would like to know more about what Siri can do for you then just ask her. “What can you do” will bring up a full list of everything Siri can do along with examples of how to ask her.
Now that you know a little more, start using Siri. Once you get used to her quirkiness, she’ll be a bit help. If you have any other helpful Siri tips or questions, leave them in the comments below.