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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.

It's very cool, albeit not always incredibly reliable. The feature appears to be deactivated by default, so if it's not working (and remember that the device needs to be plugged in as well), try going to Settings > General > Siri and then slide the switch next to 'Allow "Hey Siri"' so that it's green. And of course, if you're concerned about battery life - or people keep passing your desk and saying "Hey Siri play Don't Stop Believin'" - you can deactivate it in the same options menu.

We've found that, while charging, Siri will sometimes get overexcited and think you've said Hey Siri, when actually you said nothing of the sort. You could accidentally call someone you're talking about this way, so be careful!

How to use Siri: Personal dictation

Siri can hunt down business, movie and sport information, as well as answer general questions.

While Siri gets the bulk of the iOS feature hype, another speech-related technology may prove to be more important and a bigger boost to user productivity. On the keyboard you'll see a new button in the bottom row, to the left of the spacebar, with the image of a microphone on it. Tap this button and the iPad will transcribe whatever you say. It sends the results over the internet to a server that analyses your speech and converts it into text. We were impressed at just how fast the results came back, especially over Wi-Fi. And they were generally an accurate representation of what we had said.

To get the most out of dictation, you'll need to start thinking in punctuation. For example, to construct a decent email message, we might say, "Dan. Comma. New paragraph. What do you think about writing a review of iOS numeral five. Question mark. New paragraph. Let me know what you think. Exclamation point." However, it works.

Part of Siri's charm isn't in its feature set (which is still hit and miss), but its personable nature. Siri feels a lot less robotic than other voice-activated technology. Even when Siri gets out of its depth and doesn't know what to do, it's difficult to feel too frustrated.

And you can joke around with Siri. Apple has spent a lot of time providing Siri with a range of comebacks to joke questions (many geeky by nature). Try telling Siri you love it, or use common catchphrases such as "Who's your daddy?" or "Who let the dogs out?" These are constantly being updated, too - for example, a recent one is to keep saying "Okay Glass" (the phrase used to activate a rival product made by Google), and Siri starts to get annoyed.

 

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