Siri enables you to speak commands to your phone/tablet and have it do your bidding. You activate Siri by holding down the Home button on the iPad itself, or by holding down the control button on your earphones. Siri is faster and more reliable than ever with iOS 7.
The iPad's voice-recognition feature works by recording your voice and sending it to a server that interprets what you've said and returns plain text. If you don't have an internet connection, Siri won't work.
Siri is a massive leap forward over old-fashioned speech recognition. This used to require a strict vocabulary and couldn't do very much. Worse still, for non-Americans, voice recognition struggled with European, Australian and other accents.
Siri doesn't require a strict vocabulary, and it'll generally figure out what you're trying to say. That makes interacting with it seem much more natural. It also works pretty well with a range of accents, and has American, British and Australian settings, as well as French, German, Italian, Spanish and more.
Siri is comprehensive. It's tied into Messages, Calendar, Music, Reminders, Maps, Mail, Weather, Stocks, Clock, Contacts, Notes and Safari. It's also linked to Wolfram Alpha, the computational knowledge engine that can provide answers to numerous factual questions, and Yelp, the directory of local businesses.
The recent iOS 7 update to Siri also sees it capable of searching Twitter and adjusting Settings. Siri can also perform a web search for you - although it now uses Bing as the default search engine, asking Siri to "Google" something results in it using Google instead.
Speaking your language
Getting started with Siri couldn't be easier. Simply press and hold the Home button. The background will blur, you'll hear a 'ba-ding' noise and 'What can I help you with?' appears onscreen. You should also see a wavy white line at the bottom of the screen.
Simply speak your request into the iPad and, when you've finished speaking, the white line turns into a round microphone icon and Siri will get back to you with an answer. Sometimes it takes Siri a few moments to think about the answer, but it's a lot faster in iOS 7.
You can ask Siri all sorts of things, and the more you use Siri the more accurate it becomes. You soon become aware of just how useful it can be, and what its boundaries are. It knows a lot about weather, restaurants, movies and football, for example, but nothing about Formula One.
It is also hooked-up to the Maps application, so it can locate businesses, movie times, restaurants and bars near you. One of the great things about Siri is asking it to find things in your local area.
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