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Four ways to get things done with Siri

Lex Friedman | March 6, 2013
You can have a lot of fun with Siri, the artificially intelligent, voice recognition-based assistant built into newer iPhones and iPads. But fun though Siri may be, it turns out the little voice inside your iOS device can also help you become increasingly productive. From reminding you to perform a task, to sending meeting invitations, to keeping track of book recommendations--Siri proves to be surprisingly helpful for taking care of everyday things. Here's an assortment of tasks to get done with Siri.

You can have a lot of fun with Siri, the artificially intelligent, voice recognition-based assistant built into newer iPhones and iPads. But fun though Siri may be, it turns out the little voice inside your iOS device can also help you become increasingly productive. From reminding you to perform a task, to sending meeting invitations, to keeping track of book recommendations--Siri proves to be surprisingly helpful for taking care of everyday things. Here's an assortment of tasks to get done with Siri.

1. Schedule reminders

Though Apple's Reminders app isn't the most full-featured or powerful app around, I still rely on it for simple to-do list management. I almost never type in new reminders on my iPhone or iPad; I use Siri instead.

Time-based tasks and tricky math: The most common thing I use reminders for is time-based tasks: "Remind me to take out the recycling tomorrow at 6:30 p.m."

That's the simplest form of time-based reminder you can set with Siri, though, and I often get more complex. For example, Siri can do date math for me. When I signed up for a free trial with a premium Web service, it told me I would be charged if I didn't cancel within the next 20 days. So I told Siri, "Remind me to decide on the Web service in 19 days at 10 a.m." Siri knows precisely what to do.

Ongoing reminders: When my daughter battled a persistent pair of ear infections, the pediatrician prescribed an antibiotic. I told Siri, "Remind me to give Sierra her medicine every night at 6 p.m." (Sadly, though, I can't find a way to get Siri to understand an end date for a daily, repeating task; I must go into the Reminders app's interface to do that.)

Location-based reminders: Need to do something when you get to a certain place? Thanks to the magic of Location Services, Siri can help you with that too. You need to turn on Location Services for Reminders; if this setting isn't on, Siri will prompt you and take you to your iPhone's Settings to do so.

How does it work? Assuming you've entered your own home or work address into your contact record, you can say something like, "Remind me to turn off the slow cooker when I get home."

If you have your friend's address stored, you could say, "Remind me to share the latest office gossip when I get to Dan's house." When you arrive at the specified location, Reminders notices behind the scenes, and pops up a notification suggesting you take care of the task in question.

Siri also understands "here," in the context of: "Remind me to pick up flowers when I leave here."

 

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