My New BFF – Siri!

By Dianne Cooper (Tutor)
If you use an iPad3, iPad mini, iPhone 4S or iPod Touch 5G, or any of their successors, you have Siri on board.  Siri is a voice assistant feature. Apple Support/About Siri, will provide you with pages about what Siri can be used for, and how to do it. Here’s a brief review of one user’s experience…

IMG_1180Siri allows you to use your voice to command the device, rather than your fingers. Supposedly, Siri understands natural speech. S/he needed some familiarization with my Kiwi accent. I did this by dictating an email (which I never sent), correcting the text manually when s/he got it wrong. Over and over. If you want punctuation in your text, you have to say the word. eg comma. I find the more I use Siri, the fewer mistakes s/he makes.

The main way to access Siri is to simply press and hold the Home button. You’ll hear a couple of quick beeps, and see “What can I help you with?”. If you don’t say anything, you will be presented with a rolling screen of examples of things Siri can do for you.

Some of these things won’t work, unless you can provide Siri with the information s/he needs. eg “Tell Dad I will meet him at 11am” requires “Dad” to be identified in your Contacts (in the Add Field). Next, if “Dad” has more than one electronic address, Siri will present you with all the possible ways “Dad” might be contacted, and ask you to chose one. Then s/he will present you with either a message or an email, which you can check, correct if necessary, and send. If you want “a restaurant near me”, location services must be turned on, so Siri knows where you are now.

When you go into an App and select the icon to write something new, the keyboard appears, and you may notice, just to the left of the Space Bar, a microphone icon. That tells you Siri is available. Tap on the microphone, and the keyboard disappears, to be replaced with a waving white line on a grey background, with the word “Done” at the bottom of the screen. This line represents the sound of your voice. When you are finished, or simply want to see what Siri thinks you said, tap “Done”. The text will appear, along with the keyboard, and you can make corrections. Then tap the microphone icon again, and speak some more, if you wish.

My favourite use of Siri is to set reminders, alarms and timers. No more hard boiled  eggs when I wanted them soft. “Set timer for four minutes”. Takes seconds to do, and works every time. “Call Jack Spratt”. I don’t have to find him in Contacts before I can call.

If you have Siri on your device, make her your new BFF. (If you don’t know what BFF means, ask Siri “What is a BFF?”)

Article submitted by Dianne Cooper

Webmaster Comment: A couple of things to remember;

  • Siri has to be turned on in Settings, General, Siri…
  • You can also program him/her to wake up when you say “Hey Siri” and as Dianne alludes, you can choose between a male and a female voice
  • S/he works best when you’re connected to the Internet (Dataplan or Wifi).
  • Siri has a great sense of humour too. I followed Dianne’s directions and started asking Siri questions. Here are some of her answers…

Siri Responses

…and if you own an Android Smartphone or tablet, there are Apps offering Siri-like features here and if you own a Windows Smartphone, s/he’s called Cortana 

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