Siri was one of the first truly useful AI personal assistants and it’s hard to believe that this is the Sixth year the plucky little helper has been inhabiting our iPhones and iPads. For me, Siri has transformed how I do a lot of things, from work to play. So I thought I’d share how to best use Siri to make your life easier.
Apple is adding new functionality to Siri on a constant basis. In 2016 Apple also opened Siri up to third-party developers with their SiriKit offering. This means that we’ll be seeing way more uses for her in the coming months.
Which brings us to the first thing you need to know in order to best use Siri.
Connect Siri to 3rd-Party Apps
By default, even apps that do work with Siri are not linked. You need to manually confirm that you want Siri to have access to them. Luckily doing this is very easy:
- Go to Settings>Siri>App Support
- Toggle Siri on or off for each app
- Exit the menu
That’s all there is to it. Now Siri can talk to those specific apps without issue. Refer to that app’s documentation to learn what Siri can do with it.
You can also use Siri with a bunch of messenger apps such as Whatsapp or Skype. You can pay people with Paypal
Integration with Uber and Lyft is also both super-cool and pretty useful.
Activate “Hey Siri!”
If you have a newer Apple device, it supports hands-free activation of Siri using a key phrase. Sure, it’s not a major pain to press and hold the button, but since activating the feature I have used Siri a lot more than before.
Now I use her to book appointments, check appointments, set alarms and do quick internet searches. “Hey Siri” turns the feature from a cool gimmick to a serious productivity tool.
To get Siri listening for your call do this:
- Got to Settings>Siri
- Toggle “Allow Hey Siri!” on
You should now be able to summon Siri like a very polite genie. Except you don’t actually have to touch anything.
Opening and Switching Apps
If you have an iPad or iPhone filled with hundreds of apps like me, you’ve probably made use of the quick search rather than hunting for the right folder or icon. It’s even easier with Siri. You can just say “Hey Siri, open Netflix” and you’re ready to go in seconds. It’s probably my most common use of the system.
Ask for Reminders
Siri can remind you of anything you ask her to. If you ask her “remind me of this” she’ll ask you for the details and make sure that you are reminded at the right time. Believe me, you quickly become dependent on Siri helping you remember stuff.
One of the best features of reminders is location awareness. You can ask Siri to remind you of things when you leave your location or remind you of things when you reach a certain location. For example, you could ask Siri to remind you to call someone when you get home.
Schedule Just About Anything
It’s staggering how many different ways you can manage your time with Siri. Be sure to hook it into your Outlook and/or Gmail calendar so that Siri is aware of any appointments.
Setting alarms is dead easy, just ask for an alarm at a particular time. You can also do neat things like asking what day of the week a particular date is or how many days are left until a certain date. Time management is without a doubt a great way to best use Siri.
Control Apple Music
Obviously, Siri is integrated with Apple’s own apps and that’s particularly true of Apple music. You can control just about everything you need to in Apple Music with Siri. You can ask her to play any song in the catalog, play an album or play a list you’ve prepared.
It’s especially good for hands-free operation of the music while driving. Siri and Apple Music are a killer combination and you can find a complete discussion of what you can do here.
Have you ever been at a restaurant or other public place and heard a song you really like, but had no idea how to find it again. Ever since iOS 8 song ID system Shazam has been integrated with Siri.
Using it is dead easy, just activate Siri and say something like “What song is this?”. She’ll look it up using Shazam and, if successful, will let you know.
Change Device Settings
iOS has a pretty user-friendly shortcut bar that you can use to control things like Bluetooth and screen brightness, but Siri can now also change those settings for you. Just ask her to turn the various things no an off. These include:
- WiFi, Bluetooth, Cellular
- Playback volume
- Screen brightness
- Do not disturb and nightshift
It’s pretty useful when your device is out of reach and you realize you forgot to turn Bluetooth back on, which happens way too often.
To Best Use Siri Make Her Your Friend
It can feel pretty weird to use Siri at first. We’ve all grown up used to pushing buttons and clicking on things. However, the current incarnation of Siri is a reliable and effective control system for your apps and device.
She’s a great companion to a mobile computer that only has a touch interface for everything. Most of the time Siri is actually the fastest way to get something done, rather than clicking through a bunch of menus, swiping over multiple screens. All it takes is some time to play around and getting over the initial self-consciousness of talking to a computer.
So now that you know how to best use Siri, why not take some time to learn even more cool tricks you can do with a mobile device? Did you know you can use a tablet computer as a second screen? Even better, you can even stream your games from your PC to your mobile devices!
Lead Image is Public Domain via Pixabay
All screenshots by Kees Friesland.