If you find yourself fumbling with your iPhone to make a simple phone call, locate and launch an app, set a reminder or wake-up alarm then you’re probably not using Siri enough. If you still don’t know about Siri or you’re new to the iPhone or iPad, Siri allows you to issue voice commands on your device, saving you the trouble of all the tapping, typing, and searching by hand.
Siri was first introduced with iOS 5, back in 2010. We have covered what you can do with Siri, from calling people and making restaurant reservations to dictating messages and notes using the voice to text feature. In this article I highlight some of the new commands in the iOS 7 version of Siri, as well as suggest some tips for getting the most out of the feature.
Your First Siri Command
Your first Siri command couldn’t be easier. Whether your iPhone or iPad is in lock mode or not, simply press down on the Home button until you here the two-tone prompt and the new Siri screen comes up. If you don’t know what to say, you can tap on question at bottom-left of the screen to get a list of commands, or if you don’t speak for a few seconds a list of commands will appear on the screen.
The list of Siri commands you see are related to all of the default iOS apps. Tapping on a listed app gets you additional commands and questions you can use. But if you’re just getting your feet wet with Siri you might feel a little overwhelmed with the long list. I will highlight a few of the new and most practical commands you might should know about.
Phone Calls and Messages
Instead tapping and opening the Phone app you can simply tell Siri to call someone on your Contacts list, (for example “Call Brian”, “Call 911”, or “Redial the last number”). Since the iOS 7 update, you can now ask Siri to play your latest voicemail message which, believe me, is a lot faster than finding the Phone app and tapping on the message in order to hear messages. Simply say, “Play voice mail messages,” or “Play voicemail from [name].”
After you use Siri for a while you’ll realize that you don’t have to issue commands verbatim as they are written in the instructions. You might say something like, “Play last voicemail message,” or “Play voicemail messages from last week.”
Voice Command Control Center
Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you’re traveling away from home or your office can be a significant battery safer. You can manually turn off these and other Settings features using the new Control Center in iOS 7 (swipe up from the bottom of the home screen of your device). Or even better, you can tell Siri to “Turn off Wi-Fi”, or “Make screen brighter/dimmer” without having to swipe at all. Naturally you can also send a command to turn the features back on.
A few Control Center features Siri can’t handle is turn on the flashlight or change the screen orientation. It can though lower or increase the volume on your device.
If you have lots of apps on your device, you no longer have to search for them in folders. Just tell Siri to “Open Evernote,” for example. If you send a generic command like “Launch camera”, Siri might ask you to specify which app you want to open, if two or more similar apps are installed on your device.
Play iTunes Radio Station
As you might know, radio stations are a new feature added to iTunes, and fortunately instead of opening the iTunes app on your device, you can simply tell Siri to play “iTunes Radio” or “Play [genre] station.”
Speaking of iTunes, you can also use Siri to play songs in the music library of your device, (for example “Play jazz playlist,” “Play songs by Miles Davis,” “Pause,” “Play”, “Skip”). These commands are very useful if you’re using your iPhone or iPod touch to play music in you car.
You can send Twitter updates using Siri (“Tweet: I’m reading MakeUseOf articles”), and now in iOS 7 you can search Twitter for tweets by a specified user or about a specific topic (“Search tweets by MakeUseof”).
Questions & Answers
Siri can now provide better answers to mathematical and factual questions such as “What’s the square root of 128?” or “How far away is the sun?”
Now that you have some ideas about what Siri can do, you might want to open Settings > General > Siri and change the Voice Gender from the default female to male, or change to another language. Also notice where it says My Info. If you want Siri to be of more assistance to you personally, make sure the information about you in your Contacts card is up-to-date, including your all your home address and family relations. See this Siri article for setting up family connections.
Siri Does It Faster
I get the most out of Siri when I’m using my Apple earphones with the attached mic (or any iPhone-friendly earphones for that matter), which means I can send commands while at a stop light, or while I’m taking my afternoon walk. While there are other ways to automate your iPhone, Siri provides the best solutions for executing tasks with simple verbal commands.
Let us know how well Siri is working for you, and what features you would still like to see added.