How-To Geek

26 Actually Useful Things You Can Do with Siri

iOS_-_Siri_-_Apple

Siri is best known as Apple’s so-called digital personal assistant available on iOS devices like iPhone and iPad. Some might think Siri is only good for looking stuff up, but it can actually do a great deal more.

The thing about Siri is that can be hard to get used to, but once you do, it is incredibly useful. You can do a fairly wide array of tasks on your iOS device beyond simply looking something up. For example, you can have Siri create reminders, take notes, and set alarms. It can even make changes to system settings. Siri will also adapt to your personal language use and as you use it more and more, will tailor results individually to you.

Siri can easily be activated by holding down the home button on your iOS device until it beeps and the Siri interface appears. On iOS 9, Siri can also now be activated by saying “Hey Siri”, which is invaluable when you’re eating or driving or your iPhone is simply out of reach.

In this article, we want to go through and highlight some of the things that Siri can do. You might be surprised at how versatile and useful it is.

Searching for Things

We’ll just get it out of the way because we don’t want to be anti-climatic. Obviously, you can use Siri to search, and in fact that’s one of the things it does very well. That said, Siri will also use a variety of web services to pull data from other sources, so results are more useful than a simple list of websites you can visit.

As you’ll see in the following examples, if you want to find movie times, or know sport scores, then what you’ll see direct results rather than being shown websites you could visit to get more information.

Create Reminders

We all need to remember things, and Siri really shines when setting reminders. Simply say “remind me to …” and Siri will instantly add it to the Reminders app on your device.

If you have other iOS devices or a Mac, your reminders will be replicated to those as well, so no matter what Apple device you’re using, you can always access your reminders. Further, you can have Siri give you more specific timely reminders, for example, “Hey Siri, remind me to go to the gym at 3 PM.”

Additionally you can ask Siri to read you your to-do list, as well as location-oriented reminders like reminding you to perform an action when you leave the house, when you return home, or arrive at a certain place. If you have specific lists, you can tell Siri to add items to it like “add apples to my grocery list” or “add change oil to my to-do list.”

Create Events

Need to add something to your calendar? Siri can do that for you. Just tell Siri to create an event titled “such and such” at this time on this day and she’ll enter all that into your calendar for you.

Once Siri has the details nailed down, she’ll ask you to confirm or cancel. Once confirmed, the event will be replicated across all your devices so you don’t to repeat the effort on your Mac or iPad.

Want to do more? You can, such as moving meetings, rescheduling appointments, adding people to your meetings, and you can also ask about events, like what the rest of your day looks like, when you’re meeting with someone, and when your next appointment occurs.

Set Alarms

Setting alarms is really useful, particularly when you can use it in conjunction with “Hey Siri”.

Simply say something like “set an alarm for 8 AM” or “Hey Siri, wake me up at 6:30 AM” and it will turn the alarm on for that appointed time. You can also change alarms such as “change my 6:30 AM alarm to 7:00 AM,” turn off all your alarms, or have Siri set an alarm to wake you after a certain duration, i.e. “wake me up in 45 minutes.”

Call People

This one is very useful when trying to operate your device hands-free. You can use Siri to call people by simply telling it who to call.

You can even have it call a person on speaker so you don’t have to look at the phone to turn it on. That way, if you are driving, your eyes never leave the road.

You can also call specific numbers, get your call history, see if you have any missed calls, redial the last number, check your voicemail, and much more.

FaceTime with Your Friends

No need to open FaceTime if you want to chat face-to-face with friends and family, simply ask Siri to do it for you.

You can specify whether you want to make a regular FaceTime call (with video) or a FaceTime call with only audio.

Turn on a Timer

Simple but effective, and also pretty cool when you’re trying to operate hands-free. Use Siri to create a timer so that if you’re cooking something and washing your hands, you don’t need to touch the phone.

Setting timers in this way is actually a lot easier than using the Clock app in our opinion. You can also have Siri stop, pause, resume, and so forth.

Find out What Time it is

You can ask Siri what time it is, either where you live, or somewhere more distant.

Sadly, you can only ask for the time one place at a time. If you try to ask what time it is in several places at once, it will only return a result for the first place you ask about.

Tell You What Song is Playing

While it’s true there are specific apps out there that can do this, simply being able to tell Siri to listen and identify a song is a pretty neat trick.

Results are provided by SHAZAM but Siri will make it a seamless experience.

Play Songs from Your Favorite Artist

You can ask Siri to play songs from your favorite musical artist, or to play songs similar to your favorite artist, or a specific song from your favorite artist, and so on.

If you don’t have any music from them on your iPhone or iPad, then Siri will offer to queue them up on an Apple Music station.

There’s quite a few other things you can have Siri do for you when it comes to music. You can ask it to play music by genre, play specific albums, and basic controls like play, pause, and skip, among many other things.

Make Reservations

If you want to make a reservation at your favorite restaurant, Siri can connect to OpenTable and do that for you.

Once Siri finds out if there’s any available reservations, you’ll be able to tap the time you want and reserve a table. Make sure that if your party includes more than two people that you specify how large it is.

Launch Applications

Hey, we get it, apps are awesome and you probably have a bazillion on your iPhone by now, but don’t you get tired of flipping through your screens to find that one you only use occasionally?

No problem, just tell Siri to “open Dropbox” or “launch YouTube” and you’ll never have to scroll through your home screens again (unless you really want to).

You can also have Siri go and fetch apps from the app store, such as “download Twitter” or even have it search the app store for new apps, such as if you’re looking for a cooking or some other app.

Find and Read Emails

Don’t want to hunt for a particular email? Simply have Siri find it. You can have it search for email by subject, sender, date, and so forth.

Thereafter, once Siri finds the emails, you can have it read them to you, or you can just tap the one you want to open it in the Mail application.

Beyond this, you can ask Siri to perform other email-related tasks, such as asking it to check your email, replying to an email, and of course, sending new emails.

Perform Calculations

Why use a calculator when you can just ask Siri?

Of course, you don’t have to perform as complicated calculations as pictured above, but it’s nice to know you could if needed.

Perform Quick Conversions

Want to quickly know how many cups are in a gallon or miles per hour to kilometers per hour? Siri can perform quick conversions for you so you don’t have to look it up.

Next time you’re struggling mightily to convert tablespoons to teaspoons, remember Siri can help you out with that.

Check Dates

Siri can do a lot of cool stuff with dates as well, such as telling you what day of the week something is, how many days have elapsed between two dates, what day next Friday will be, and more.

You can play around with this and get a lot of useful information, but if you don’t want a shock, it might be better not to ask Siri how many days ago you were born!

Change Settings

This one is very useful because changing settings can sometimes be a little tedious. With Siri, you can just ask it to turn off something like Wi-Fi, or turn on Bluetooth.

It’s a great little extra perk, and we’re glad that Apple finally added this to iOS.

Access App Settings

If you have an app open on your iPhone or iPad, you can quickly access that app’s settings by opening Siri and saying “Settings”.

We like this particular trick because it’s so much faster than accessing an app’s settings the traditional way. Also, you don’t have to have the actual app open, you can ask Siri to open that app’s settings by saying “open [app] settings”.

Mapping

Mapping things is one of the most useful things a smartphone can do and luckily Siri makes it even more useful. You can ask Siri to show you how to get from point A to point B, or simply how far away a destination is.

You can do much more of course; you can ask Siri to give you directions home, ask what your ETA is, find the nearest gas station, show you landmarks, and tons of other stuff.

Because Apple Maps has gotten progressively better since it’s haphazard launch several years ago, you may not even need Google, meaning that you can have Siri route you around the country to your heart’s content.

Take Notes

Got a winning idea for the next great American novel, or something occurred to you that you really want to remember? Don’t leave it to your memory, have Siri note it for you.

It’s simple just to ask Siri to take a note, and like reminders and events, it will be synced to iCloud so it will be available across all your devices.

Send Text Messages

Siri really shows her personal assistant chops when it comes to text messages. Ask Siri to “send a text message” to so-and-so, and it will ask you what you want it to say.

Once, Siri has your message ready, you can tell it to send it to the recipient or just cancel.

If you simply want to dictate a message to send, you can just tell Siri to text someone with the message content. For example, “text Mom and tell her I’ll be home for Christmas” or “reply to Kirk that’s fantastic news.”

Read Text Messages

Texting and driving is a huge no-no, which is why you should just have Siri help you out with that. For example, in addition to being able to dictate and send text messages, you can also have it read them to you.

Of course, if someone sends you something personal, it’s probably best not to have Siri read it aloud in front of others, but if you’re in the car driving, and someone sends you a message, you won’t have to pull over to read it, instead you can have it read to you.

Once Siri has read you your new text message, you can have it reply or simply call the sender.

Follow Sports

For those of you who love and follow sports, you can have Siri keep you abreast of what is going on with your favorite (or not so favorite) teams.

You can ask when a team is playing, who they play, or what the score was. Siri can also give you other information such as standings and information about specific teams, as well as what games are on, what channel your favorite team is on, and much, much more.

See Where and When Movies are Playing

Want to go see the latest Hollywood blockbuster but don’t want to play movie roulette? Ask Siri to show you where something is playing nearby.

Being able to just ask Siri where a movie is playing will prove to be a terrific timesaver. Furthermore, the fun doesn’t end there, you can also ask Siri about who starred in a movie, find out which types of movies are playing, what’s playing at a specific theater, and so on.

Give Yourself a Nickname

If you don’t want Siri to refer to you by your name, you can tell it to call you by another.

Of course, if you don’t like the new nickname, or you want a different one, you can change it at anytime by simply asking Siri to call you something else.

Just Ask About What You Can Ask About

If you want to know more, and dig further into all of Siri’s powers, simply activate it say, “what can I ask you?”

Siri will give you a long list of categories, and when you tap on each one, it will give you further examples of all the things you can do with it.

Say Goodbye

Finally, when you’re finished using Siri, you can make it go away by saying something dismissive like “bye” or “see you later.”

Being able to do so much with Siri means that it’s far more likely to become a more routinely used feature instead of an occasional tool for looking stuff up. The ability to set reminders or read text messages gives you powers that you might never thought available to you.

Beyond this, if you want to change Siri’s gender or accent, or have it respond to your voice, then you can do that too.

We hope you found this article useful, particularly if you use an iOS device but have never really taken advantage of what Siri offers. If you have anything you would like to add, such as a Siri skill we missed, a comment, or a question, please leave your feedback in our discussion forum.

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and died-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.

  • Published 10/26/15

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