The Only 5 Things You Should Say to Siri

Siri - the virtual assistant that's built into Apple computers, including the iPhone, iPad and Mac - is one of the most well known and most used virtual assistants. She (or he if you prefer) speaks over 20 languages, answers over a billion requests per week and isn’t even 6 years old.

Despite the notoriety, Siri has some limitations. She often has difficulty transcribing or interpreting specific requests, especially those that include conversational language or complicated names.

For example, she inaccurately transcribes basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski's name and searches for information about Duke, instead of the coach's age.

For example, she inaccurately transcribes basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski's name and searches for information about Duke, instead of the coach's age.

Many people get frustrated and dismiss Siri all together. That is a mistake! Siri can be incredibly useful for specific tasks. The following requests work reliably and are incredibly useful daily.

 

#1: Call, Text or FaceTime RECIPIENT’S NAME

Instead of opening the Phone, Messages or FaceTime app and searching for a specific person, let Siri do the work.

From any screen on your iPhone or iPad, ask Siri to call, text or FaceTime a specific person.

From any screen on your iPhone or iPad, ask Siri to call, text or FaceTime a specific person.

I use this daily, and while it is a great time saver, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Which Brian? If you have multiple people saved with the same first name, Siri occasionally gets confused or asks for clarification. It’s best to use first and last name when asking to contact a specific person.
  • Nicknames come in handy. For the people that you contact most often, you can set up a nickname in their Contact file. Store a nickname such as wife, husband, mom or dad, and moving forward, you can ask Siri to contact that person based on his or her nickname.
  • Dictate your message. When using Siri to compose a message, name your recipient and dictate your message. You can insert punctuation by saying commands such as, "period", "question mark" or "exclamation mark."
You can use Siri to choose a recipient and dictate your message in one step. For example, "Text my wife, when are you going to be home, question mark".

You can use Siri to choose a recipient and dictate your message in one step. For example, "Text my wife, when are you going to be home, question mark".

  • Siri works best with communication apps from Apple - iMessage & FaceTime. Siri is currently not compatible with many popular third-party communication apps, such as Facebook Messenger or Skype. There are a handful of apps that work with Siri, but you have to be specific. For example, “Send my wife a message in WhatsApp: When will you be home?”

 

#2: Search Google for…

You can ask Siri questions, and she will answer you directly. This approach works pretty well for straightforward questions, such as “how many tablespoons are in 1/4 cup?" or "what time is it in London?"

However, instead of asking Siri directly, I find asking Siri to search Google for your question is more helpful. There are two reasons I prefer to ask Siri to search Google:

  • The results open as a webpage - Instead of temporarily opening the answer to your question within Siri, this command will open the answer to your question as a webpage in Safari with Google search results.
  • Google gets it right - In many cases, Google’s search results are more accurate and useful than the results that display directly within Siri.
Preceding your questions to Siri with "Search Google for", and the iPad will open a webpage in Safari and Google search results will displays.

Preceding your questions to Siri with "Search Google for", and the iPad will open a webpage in Safari and Google search results will displays.

 

#3: Set a Timer for X Minutes

Timers are great for cooking, exercise, meditating, naps, productivity, time outs and so much more. Simply ask Siri to set a timer for a specific number of minutes or hours.

You can use Siri to set a timer on the iPhone.

 

# 4: Set a reminder for TASK on DAY and TIME

How many times have you have made a mental note to get something done, only to completely forget until it’s too late? Siri is great for setting up random reminders. Make sure you specify when you would like to be reminded:

  • Remind me to call mom today at 6:30 PM
  • Remind me to finish my taxes next Tuesday at 5:00 PM
Use Siri to set a reminder for a task on a specific day and time.

Use Siri to set a reminder for a task on a specific day and time.

 

#5: Open NAME OF APP

This one is simple but it comes in handy, especially when you are searching for an app on your iPhone or iPad that you do not frequently use. Siri can open any app on your phone. So instead of swiping around or searching, simply ask to open the app.


Siri has a wide range of capabilities, and many people will find other helpful use cases. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can set up Siri to play practically any song or album, dim the lights or adjust the thermostat.

Not to mention that Apple is focused on improving Siri with each major software update, so her abilities will undoubtedly improve. Who knows, maybe someday soon, she’ll be able to do something most humans cannot - spell Krzyzewski.


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