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Complete guide to Siri: Updates in iOS 8.3 & how to use Siri features on iPad/iPhone

David Price | April 24, 2015
Our complete guide to Siri explains how to use Siri, details all the Siri features and commands (including the new questions introduced in iOS 8.3) and helps you get more out of Siri on your iPhone or iPad.

Our complete guide to Siri explains how to use Siri, details all the Siri features and commands (including the new questions introduced in iOS 8.3) and helps you get more out of Siri on your iPhone or iPad.

Using Siri, Apple's voice assistant, you can speak commands to your iPad or iPhone and have it do your bidding. To activate Siri, hold down the Home button on your compatible iPad or iPhone (iPhone 4S or newer, iPad 3 or newer, all generations of iPad mini and iPod touch 5th gen or newer), or hold down the control button on your earphones.

Siri is constantly improving: it became faster and more reliable than ever with iOS 7 and iOS 7.1, gaining new features and a female voice for the UK, and iOS 8 added music identification, "'Hey Siri!" voice activation and real-time feedback of the words Siri thinks you're saying.

And now that the Apple Watch is imminent (its official release date is 24 April), Apple is working even harder to improve Siri, as it's one of the key ways of interacting with the smartwatch. We've noticed a definite speed boost for Siri in iOS 8.3, too.

Siri works by recording your voice and sending it to a server that interprets what you've said and returns plain text. If you haven't got 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. The iOS 8.3 update introduced new languages including Russian, Danish, Dutch, Thai, Swedish, Turkish and Portuguese.

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.

Siri is also capable of searching Twitter and adjusting Settings, and it can perform a web search for you. These days it uses Bing as the default search engine, but specifically asking Siri to "Google" something results in it using Google instead.

How to set up Siri: Get started with Siri voice commands

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.

 

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