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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.

How to use Siri: Get Siri to help you with daily tasks

Siri can access the Settings, which makes it much easier to quickly make changes. You can also ask it to search Twitter.

Even if you're not driving and don't intend to use it completely hands-free, Siri can still be useful. In fact, the feature proves that some tasks can be done much faster through speech than through clicking, tapping and swiping. It's much easier to set an alarm or timer using Siri than it is to unlock your tablet, find the Clock app, and tap within the app. Just say, "Set a timer for three minutes", and your iPad begins to count down until your tea is ready. "Set an alarm for 5am" does what you'd expect, instantly. "Remind me to record my favourite show" and "Note that I need to take my suit to the cleaners" work, too. These are short bursts of data input that can be handled quickly by voice, and we've found they work well.

It's also much faster to ask Siri to access settings than it is to dive through the menu. You can just say "Change wallpaper" rather than opening Settings and tapping Wallpaper.

You will soon become impressed by Siri's ability to understand the context of conversations. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it's magical. We asked Siri for suggestions for places to have lunch and it provided us with a list of nearby restaurants that serve lunch.

Talking to your iPad or iPhone is not much different from talking on your mobile phone. It's not appropriate in all contexts. If, for example, you're quietly reading in the library and need to set a reminder, you should use the Reminders app, not Siri. And if you're out in public, well, you can use Siri, but you do risk people giving you funny looks.

Apple's integration of Wolfram Alpha with Siri is a smart move. If you need answers to factual questions, such as the speed of light or the number of days until Christmas, the answer engine can provide the solution.

How to use Siri: How to use 'Hey Siri!'

A new feature added in iOS 8, which arrived in September 2014 is known as Hey Siri, and it's very sci-fi.

By saying those words ("Hey, Siri!"), you can activate Siri from a sleep state without pressing the Home button at all. The device will wake up, Siri will start, and it will listen out for your next command.

(Sadly this only works when the iPad or iPhone is plugged into a power supply - otherwise, presumably, your iDevice would burn through its battery supply from constantly listening out for the magic words.)

 

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