If you are a fan of basic Siri commands you can take your personal assistant to the next level by making it a powerful helper. There is much more to Siri than most users know and with some simple tips and tricks you’ll discover that Siri can do a better and more efficient job for you.
Make sure you have a data connection and a decently quiet place as your accuracy drops dramatically if you have too much background noise.
1. Teach Siri About Your Relationships
Letting Siri know who’s who in your Contacts list will simplify commands. For example, you can call your boss, email your girlfriend or text your friend by simply asking for them by their relationship to you.
There are two ways to tell Siri what to associate with each name:
- From the Contacts app, navigate to your name and touch Edit. Add a new field and tap Related People. You can choose from a list of relationships or even add your own definition.
- You can also tell Siri directly who’s who. Telling Siri “My brother is Joe Smith” will result in a question to verify the contact. Siri will remember the relationship if you confirm.
2. Teach Siri What You Meant to Say
if Siri gets something wrong you can always touch the words that Siri misunderstood and correct the assistant. You can either type the correction or resend the query. This defeats the purpose of hands-free helper but you can teach Siri for the long run which will eventually make your life easier.
3. Update Your Social Network
You probably noticed already that there is no direct way to update your Facebook or send a tweet but you can work around this problem. Since most of the social networks allow updates via texts you can send text messages via Siri. All you gotta do is set up your account once and text away later:
Activate the text feature by sending “Hello” to 32665. (Find codes for more countries and other details from Facebook help.) You will get the text message with a link containing a code that you should add to your Contact list. Rename this number to Facebook you start updating your Facebook via text using Siri.
In Google+ navigate to the Settings and choose Set delivery preferences. Add your phone number (choose don’t notify me or else you will receive incoming messages by text). You’ll receive a confirmation text message with a verification code. After you’re verified, add a new entry to your Contacts for Google Plus with the number 33669. Tell Siri to text Google Plus and your circles will see the updates.
Sending tweets is similar, just text “START” to 40404. (Find codes for more countries from Twitter help.) When you receive a text from Twitter, send back your username first, then your password. When you receive the code, add this number to your Contacts under Twitter.
4. Dictate Punctuation and Formatting to Siri
If your note requires punctuation you can use commands such as “New line”, “Percent sign”, “Open Quote”, etc. Check out a list of dictation commands from iSource. This will make your dictating much more powerful and will save time for editing.
5. Search Bing or Yahoo
Siri uses the default search engine under Settings -> Safari -> Search Engine. This is set to Google from the factory but if you prefer alternative search engine you can change it to your preference. You can also do a one-time search with Bing or Yahoo. Just tell Siri “Search Yahoo for” or “Search Bing for” your topic of interest.
6. Use Search Engine Shortcuts to Ask Questions
Google and Yahoo have shortcuts built in for common information. These can be used directly by Siri to simplify input and get better results. Examples of results include flight times, currency conversion, recipes, traffic reports and more. Find a complete list of shortcuts from Yahoo help, or check out the list of Google search features.
7. Teach Siri to Pronounce Your Contacts Correctly
Phonetic first or last names and nicknames can be added to your Contacts list. If you are a non-native speaker like me or have an accent Siri will have more difficulty understanding who you trying to text or call. You can use help to teach Siri with difficult pronunciations. Navigate to the contact, select Edit -> Add Field. You will see Phonetic First Name, Phonetic Last Name, and Nickname fields. Siri will recognize these entries when they are saved.
8. Make Siri Call You Another Name
Under Settings -> General -> Siri -> My Info you can enter your own contact listing. If this gets boring, just tell Siri “Call me Superman” and it will refer to you by your new Super name.
9. Stop Pressing the Home Button to Activate Siri
If you want to change the way you activate Siri (by default you need to hold down the Home button), you can navigate to Settings -> General -> Siri -> Raise to Speak -> ON. Now when you raise the iPhone 4S to your ear as if making a call, Siri will beep at you and wait for instructions.
10. Have Siri Use an Alternative Reminder App
Apple introduced Reminders with iOS 5 and Siri is set up by default to use this app. If you’re interested in using Remember the Milk (RTM) instead, you can set it up so that Siri communicates with RTM for all reminders. This has the advantage of several features not found in Reminders such as cross-platform online sync, email reminders and task sharing. You can find instructions on how to set up RTM with Siri from RTM. The app is free, however a Pro version will cost you a tiny monthly fee for using their special features.