iPhone and iPad

8 Things You Probably Didn’t Realize Siri Could Do

Matt Smith 18-07-2013

Siri has become one of the iPhone’s defining features, but for many people, it’s not always the most useful. While some of this is due to the limitations of voice recognition, the oddity of using voice to command a device is also partly to blame. Users often assume Siri isn’t good for much more than finding directions or calling contacts.


That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a ton of functions and features packed into Siri and, once you learn how to use them, you may be surprised how much you can accomplish without ever touching your phone.

Here are ten lesser-known commands.

Call People By Relationship Instead Of Name

Everyone knows Siri can be used to call people, but the usefulness of that feature can vary. If you want to call you father, and his name is John Smith, that’s easy. If his name is long, or not common, this isn’t quite so straightforward.

You can cheat by simply re-naming the contact to “Dad” or similar, but there’s a better way. All you have to do is add a “relationship” which can be done by telling Siri “John Smith is my father”.

Before this will work, you’ll need to ensure there is contact for yourself on your device and specify that contact as “you” in Siri. Your iPhone should have created one for you, but if you don’t have it you can do so in the Contacts app, then open the Settings app and go to General > Siri. Tap My Info and then choose your own contact information.


Post To Facebook And Twitter


You probably know Siri can handle texts, but did you know it can send messages to Facebook and Twitter as well? The process is almost identical: say “message”, then the social network’s name, then the message you want to send.

So if I want to tweet “It’s a beautiful day” I just need to say “Message Twitter, it’s a beautiful day.” I could also say send, post, or even just start by saying “Twitter”. Of course, your Facebook and Twitter accounts must actually be connected to your iPhone for this feature to work.

Hashtags can be entered by just saying “hashtag” followed by a word, the message can be changed by saying “change” and you can attach your current location to the update with the “add location” command.


Figure The Tip (And Other Math Problems)


Siri is hooked into Wolfram Alpha 10 Surprising Things You Didn't Know Wolfram Alpha Could Do I continue to be amazed by Wolfram Alpha and the way it crunches numbers around openly available data. The result – it shows us the world in a far more inter-connected and interesting way. It... Read More , which has many uses, one of which is the ability to look up solutions to math problems. All you have to do is speak the problem you want solved. So, if you want to figure out an 18% tip on a bill that’s $55.04, you can simply say “What is 18 percent of $55.04?”.

You can also specify different currencies like Euros, Pounds and Yuan, and you can also convert money from one currency to another by asking “How much is (the currency you have) in (the currency you want to convert to)?”.

This feature isn’t just for calculating a tip. Siri, with Wolfram’s help, can handle just about any math problem you’re likely to need answered on the fly, including conversion between physical measurements and all the basic add, subtract, divide and multiply problems you could ever encounter.


Make Restaurant Reservations


Siri can do more than just find a nearby restaurant – it can make reservations, as well. To enable this feature you must install the OpenTable app (it’s free). Once you’ve done that, you can tell Siri to book a reservation by saying “book a reservation for” and then the number of people, the restaurant’s name, and the time and date you’d like to book for.

If you’re feeling lucky you can just ask Siri to book a table based on cuisine or location, and the OpenTable app will automatically find a nearby restaurant that fits your criteria – if there are any, of course.

Also, this only works with restaurants that take part in OpenTable, so sometimes you’ll have to book reservations the old fashioned way.


Play Movie Trailers


Perhaps after dinner with friends, everyone decides a movie would be great. But what should everyone see? If no one has a good recommendation, deciding can be hard, and you don’t want to be that group standing outside the ticket counter trying to come to a consensus.

Siri can help. Just say “Show me the trailer for (movie name)” and provided it’s a fairly recent movie it’ll appear almost instantly. Siri can also handle some older movies, but not all of them. The trailers are pulled from a select few sites, so if they don’t have a trailer, you’re out of luck.


This is a simple one – just say “Siri restart” and Springboard will re-boot. This isn’t a full reboot, but it’s a lot quicker, and may banish an annoying glitch without a full restart.

Communicate With Subtlety


Talking to Siri can be socially awkward to say the least, particularly when you’re alone in public. Shouting commands at your iPhone will earn just as many stares as loudly talking on a Bluetooth headset – heck, maybe even more.

But don’t worry; Siri can be discreet. Just open the Settings app, go to General > Siri, and then turn the Raise to Speak feature On. Now Siri will activate whenever you raise your phone and put it to your ear, which means you look like a normal person on a phone.

You can also turn off Siri’s voice during normal use by changing the Voice Feedback option to Handsfree only. Once this setting is changed you won’t hear voice feedback over the speakerphone again, but responses will still be delivered on-screen.

Search Specific Web Pages

You probably know that Siri can search the web, but most users only see this feature when a command isn’t recognized. Using voice commands for search can be useful, however, if you know what to say.

The key is to be specific. First, start whatever you say with “search the web for” or, if you’d like to use a specific search engine, say “search Bing for” followed by your search terms.

Another way to narrow results is to specify the site you want to search. The phrase “Search for the history of the American Revolution” will bring up a page of Google results, but “Look for American Revolution on Wikipedia” brings up the specific Wikipedia entry. And this tactic doesn’t just work with Wikipedia – it works with many websites, though you may need to specify the URL instead of just saying the site’s name.


Siri will have even more tricks up her sleeve once iOS 7 6 Reasons You're Going to Love iOS 7 I've spent around a week playing with Apple's preview version of iOS 7 in its current beta form and in that time I've had plenty of time to peruse Apple's vision for the future of... Read More is released later this year. Some upcoming notable features include the ability to learn how to say names not already known to Siri, offline dictation (which can show the result of speech input as it’s entered), a new male voice option, the ability to launch apps or change system settings, and rather interestingly, the default search engine has been switched to Bing, as well.

Do you know any clever Siri commands not mentioned here? What would you like to see the digital assistant do? Let us know about them in the comments.

Related topics: Siri, Speech Recognition.

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  1. Marci Victoria
    October 16, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    I find words like “hoe” offensive and wish I could ask Siri to eliminate that one in particular from autocorrect. Especially since I text the word “how” multiple times a day, and the offensive term is constantly interjected. I tried to find a manual way to do this, but the suggested fixes on the internet did not work. So, I’ve given up my otherwise beloved autocorrect. Sigh.

    • samayra.mehta
      April 29, 2019 at 10:32 am

      If you have an apple you can go to settings and do text replacement and change hoe o how!

  2. Frustrated with Siri
    January 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    So frustrating that Siri can't do math or answer other simple questions directly. The ability listed in the article for math results is no longer possible. It just brings up web search results which, often, don't even answer the question. Siri could be so much more useful.

  3. Karen Lewsader
    September 26, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Siri can name that tune!

  4. Adrotzur
    May 22, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    One thing I want Siri to be able to do is answer information about itself

  5. ileon9
    May 12, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    once at school our homeroom teacher was trying to show us some of the bad things that apple is doing like terrible working conditions and she showed us a slightly scary feature i dont remember the exact wording but we asked siri
    "wheres the nearest place to DUMP a BODY" which is kinda creepy in the first place then you look at the list and creepyness increases tenfold it gives you locations like funiral homes' and creamating places, but it also gave us swamps, fields, and rivers, im kinda worried about weather this is a joke or not

  6. Cubs mom
    May 8, 2015 at 2:12 am

    I got Siri to tell me the story of hoe she came to be. Try it some time. She also tells jokes and poems. She can be quite funny at times. I love this option for many reasons

  7. Anonymous
    May 6, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Kids love Apple iPhones and beside all little kids have them now so why not Galaxy phones are too big anyways

    • sheryl mccabe
      September 25, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      ALL " little kids do not have nor need iphones!!"

    • sheryl
      September 25, 2016 at 9:21 pm

      WRONG!! NOT ALL " little kids have " nor need an iphone much befor 8th grade !

  8. Harvey
    December 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Siri doesn't seem to be able to handle basic maths any more, instead opting to do a web search on simple requests such as "what's 60 * 70000"!

  9. KK
    July 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I love using Siri to make my shopping list. Whenever I run out of anything, I pick up my phone and say "To do - cookies" -- Siri adds it to the to do list. "To do - milk" Siri adds it to the list -- that's it. And Siri gets it right about 95% of the time. I usually make my shopping list in the car on the way home from work -- by the time I get to the store, my shopping list is complete without ever typing or writing a thing! Easy-schmeezy.

    Also, if you forget all the stuff that Siri can do, just launch Siri and press the little "i" icon to the right of "What can I help you with?" , and it will give you a list of commands.

  10. Marie Fullerton
    July 26, 2013 at 4:00 am

    Why Bing for the default? I never use Bing.

    • KK
      July 27, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Me either! I hate Bing. I'm surprised Apple would be using a Microsoft product! Yuck! It doesn't compare to Google, and never will. Whenever I tried the "Take the Bing Challenge", Google always blew them away for me. If Apple is going to add Bing as a search engine, I hope they give us a choice as to which we'd like to use!

  11. David in the O.C.
    July 23, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    You can also get Siri to remind you of things at certain locations. We wanted Siri to remind us to use our cloth bags whenever we went to the supermarket. The only way to get Siri to acknowledge the request is to be at the location where you want the reminder to take place. I'm pretty sure you also have to add the supermarket to your contacts ahead of time. We spent a long time trying to get it to work. I think the phrasing was something like, "Remind me to use shopping bags whenever I'm at Albertsons." Now when we park the car at the market, a reminder pops up on screen.

    • KK
      July 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Fantastic idea David in the O.C.!! I'm going to try that. I've set up location reminders before when I needed to pick up my meds at the pharmacy, but I never thought of a reminder for the cloth bags... I'm always forgetting to use them, but no more! Thanks David!

  12. Patty W
    July 22, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I really need to play around more with Siri. I had no idea it could supposedly do these things. I am looking foward to iOS 7 though. The additions sounds more helpful.

  13. robert guzzino
    July 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    be able to delete multiple emails at one time in any email client !!

  14. Steve Rathbun
    July 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Personally,I have found those voice based search things to be amazingly inaccurate.More of a head ache than an asset. Classic example;I repair CB radios for a hobby. I needed a transistour for one I was working on,and decided to use Googles voice search to find it.I asked for transistour,I got transexual! And theyaren't much better for voice command dialing. Rarely does it get it right. It is so aggrivating I've removed it from my phone entirely!
    Tried to find the weather for my area,Deming,N.M.(USA),for a planned camping trip in the Gila Wilderness.I got Dubai!
    Overall,I give those voice based operations three thumbs down!

    • Lucy Wain
      July 23, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Are you comparing android to Apple? Here again, you can't compare Apples and lemons. I'm sure there is an android article you can go to that will be much more helpful to you. Maybe your accent doesn't translate well to your voice program.

    • PhilH
      July 29, 2013 at 8:45 am

      Aww, doesn't Android do spell checks? It's spelled "transistor".

    • PhilH
      July 29, 2013 at 8:55 am

      And, btw, after criticising Apple in favour of your hallowed Android, you've just declared that Android sucks: "Rarely does it get it right. It is so aggravating I've removed it from my phone entirely!"

  15. Stephanie S
    July 21, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Thanks, Matt, for these ways to use Siri. I have an iPhone 4 which doesn't have Siri. However, the Google Search app is very good. I am not sure if it can do the things you have listed in your article but I am sure going to find out. :)

  16. jb
    July 21, 2013 at 12:49 am

    "Siri restart" doesn't work -- too bad, as my iPhone "sleep" button is broken, and I was hoping this might offer some semblance of reboot functionality.

  17. Bobbd
    July 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    +1 for Roger's comment. My problem is that in rural areas, 3G is often too slow and Siri's servers can't reply fast enough. I've left feedback with Apple. I may be wrong, but I got the impression that in iOS 7 Voice Command is available if Siri fails to connect. Here's hoping.

  18. Papa ear
    July 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    now only if it recognized/understood my accent
    A software made by white folk for white folk

  19. Roger Owens
    July 19, 2013 at 1:03 am

    There is a serious flaw in the implementation of Siri as it works now pertaining to Voice Dialing and Siri.

    Here's the thing. Many of us do not have unlimited data plans or are unwilling to pay the high prices required to use Siri over 3G/4G or even have Cell Data available.

    Before Siri, I could place a call by using Voice Dialing. I still can as long as I disable Siri. I leave Cell Data off most of the time and like to leave Siri on most of the time since I almost always have WiFi available. But on the road, in my car, I obviously do not have WiFi. If I'm driving (or even if not), I have to turn off Siri or turn on Cell Data to use Voice Dialing. The controls to do either are buried too deep in Settings to be convenient or even safe.

    Evidently, someone at Apple thinks we all have cell data available all the time. If we all lived in metropolitan areas, have a company paid data plan, or were rich, that would be true, but most of us don't meet this requirement.
    Please help get Apple's engineering team to change iOS to either teach Siri to handle Voice Dialing without being connected to the Internet or make it easy to turn off Siri. It seems obvious to me that Siri should understand a command to simply turn off (and on) Siri!

    Please help me get Apple to bring back simple voice dialing when Siri is on and Cell Data is off or unavailable. I cannot always remember to turn off Siri when I leave places. It's just not safe to do so while driving. Don't you think?


    :-)> Roger

    • Steve Rathbun
      July 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Personally,I cant see why anyone would want an iphone(or any Apple product).Their OS is proprietary,thus requires more steps to load anything to and it is balky and rather inefficient. Give me an HP/Compaq computer or Android phone any day!

      • Roger Owens
        July 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm

        It's too bad you can't come up with any original criticism of Apple products. Parroting others, who also do not know of what they speak, is downright shameful. Have you even used an Apple product recently? I doubt it. Almost all things are now being handled through iCloud (and even iTunes syncing) are automatic. Sure six years ago, it wasn't as easy; but apparently, you wouldn't know. You actually belong to the crowd that actually likes to do things the hard way.

        Besides what are you even doing commenting after an article on Siri?

        • Steve Rathbun
          July 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm

          Well you're entitled to your opinion.I still say Apple is junk.Always was,always will be.

        • Lucy Wain
          July 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm

          'I tried my best to see things from your point of view, but your point of view is stupid.'
          Could you take your point of view to your own people because we already know how you all feel. You will not be finding us going into your environment being demeaning to you. We are trying to share knowledge and information that will be helpful to us.
          We are also polite and courteous to each other.

          I'm with Roger,
          What are you doing here?

        • PhilH
          July 29, 2013 at 8:43 am

          And Steve, it seems you feel entitled to other people's opinions because you don't seem capable of forming one of your own.