Siri – gotta love her, errr, or it. I have gotten a lot of fun chuckles out of using Siri, but also many practical things as well. Fun and useful!
By now it seems we’re all well aware of the many Easter eggs Apple has left for us in Siri, the intelligent assistant baked into the iPhone 4S. She has enough answers to silly questions to delight you for a weekend or more. Some sites are getting a lot of mileage out of finding each and every amusing answer Siri has up her sleeve.
But once the novelty has worn off, will you really use Siri in your everyday life — or will she fade into the background, an unwanted extra like Apple’s previous iPhone voice control feature? After using the 4S for more than a week, I think Siri will enter our lives in small but vital ways. Most of these are things you could do before, but that required too many cumbersome steps that Siri can easily overcome.
Here’s my shortlist of ways Siri really works for me. If you have an iPhone 4S already, how are you putting her to work? Take our poll and let us know in the comments.
1. Siri, Wake Me Up. When you’re ready to crash, the last thing you want to do is fiddle with an alarm app. It’s much faster and more satisfying to hold down the home button and say “Wake me up at 7:15.” This also works well for power naps — “Wake me in 40 minutes.” — or the weekend, when you don’t have a specific appointment but don’t want to oversleep: “Wake me in eight hours.”
2. Siri, Find Coffee. Likewise, typing on a small screen is something you just don’t want to do when you’re caffeine-deprived, especially in a strange town. For more complex restaurant requests later in the day, you’ll probably want to go straight to the Yelp app — but if you just need a java jolt to get started, she can point you at the nearest coffee place. Chances are it’s a Starbucks.
3. Siri, Do You Know The Way To San Jose? Here’s another area where typing takes too damn long (and if you’re doing it on the road, where most of us need directions on the go, typing can kill.) Siri is an effective and reliable shortcut to Google Maps directions. She’d be a lot more effective if she offered to read the directions out ahead of each turn; that would give GPS device manufacturers like TomTom a run for their money. But Siri hasn’t steered me wrong on any city name I’ve tried yet. And yes, putting your question in the form of a song title works too.
4. Siri, Play A Random Song. I’m pretty fastidious about organizing my tunes; setting up a new “most wanted” playlist every month is only the beginning of it. I thought nothing could ever stop me from scrolling through them to choose the playlist I wanted — but Siri did. What’s more, instructions that match my spur-of-the-moment musical tastes — like “Siri, play some Queen” — have come in very handy, especially on my morning run.
5. Siri, Send A Text. Here’s where Siri’s lift-to-talk feature comes in handy. No more texting and walking! Just turn the phone on, put it to your ear and say “Siri, text my wife and let her know I’m going to be late.” No muss, no fuss, and anyone walking past will simply think you’re talking to your personal assistant. Which, of course, you are.
6. Siri, Will It Rain Today? Apple made a big deal of Siri’s weather prediction capabilities, so it’s no surprise that she understands all manner of meteorological questions. But I never expected to be asking so many of them as I stand and stare at my closet, hat rack and umbrella stand.
7. Siri, Remind Me To Do This Every Day. Here’s another area where I had my system all thought out — a to-do app called Things combined with Google Calendar. Siri hasn’t replaced this system, but she has lessened my need to put stuff in it. Best of all, she can set repeating items with ease: try “Siri, remind me to brush my teeth at 10pm every night.” That may sound like micromanaging, by the way, but it’s the most effective way I’ve found to get me to wind down at a certain time.
8. Siri, Remind Me When I Come Back Here. Siri’s location-based reminders aren’t perfect — it’s hard to get her to understand location labels other than “home” or “work,” for one thing. But one location she definitely understands is “here” — your current GPS coordinates. This can be useful in all sorts of small ways. For example, the other night I walked past a beautiful house I really wanted to take a picture of during the day. A quick note to Siri, and she reminded me when I passed that way a few mornings later. Good Siri.
9. Siri, Settle Our Argument. No, Siri doesn’t know it all. But she is plugged into Wolfram Alpha, a two-year-old “computational knowledge engine” that can give you everything from the height of Mount Everest to the size of global GDP to quotes from Pulp Fiction — all in response to questions in natural language. She just might be able to give you the last word in that spirited discussion of yours faster than Google can. Besides, Google doesn’t give you the satisfaction of asking, holding the phone up, and smiling smugly.
10. Siri, Send a Tweet. Going to Twitter.com to post your update? Launching the Twitter mobile app? That’s so last month. Twitter and Siri were made for each other — you just have to do a bit of work to get them together. Follow our step-by-step instructions here.
BONUS: 10 Absurd Questions for Siri