How to use Siri faster by talking less

If you watched the new iPhone 4S commercials that Apple released last night, the ones that feature John Malkovich asking Siri for jokes and about the meaning of life, you might have noticed the way in which he was asking. In short, it was short. David Chartier certainly noticed:

Joke features him speaking a series of one-word commands to Siri that practically feel like verbal equivalents of tapping on a particular app to get a particular piece of information. "Weather." "Evening." "Linguica." "Joke." Apple seems to want to remind us that, underneath the clever responses and artificial personality, Siri is a tool meant to help us get more done with less.

Talking to Siri like it's a Pixar character certainly makes it more endearing, and makes the virtual relationship seem more real. The commercial shows, however, that if you don't have time or simply aren't in the mood for pleasantries, you can get to the point with machine-like brevity.

Unfortunately, for all of Siri's context awareness, it doesn't seem to notice when your communications are rushed and respond in kind. As the commercial also shows, even one short word like "life" can return a paragraph-long reply.

For more tips, check out our latest Siri how-to series, or jump on over to our Siri forum and tell us how you prefer talking to Apple's adorable little digital assistant!

Source: David Chartier

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Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

How to use Siri faster by talking less


Nice post. After seeing these commercials I tried using one word statements and was suprised at the responses. Much easier to get answers.

"Unfortunately, for all of Siri's context awareness, it doesn't seem to notice when your communications are rushed and respond in kind."
If you're really in a rush, I don't think you'll wait 10-30 seconds for the server to respond, thus you won't be using Siri.

To me it seems to remind us of how truly simplistic Siri is. I like my Iphone 4S, but really it is only taking key words...definitely not fully understanding your request in most instances. That being said it is a great start...I would love to see what Google counters with, especially since their voice actions (to me) are already just as good if not better.
I would love to see Apple pick-up some of Google voice actions like calling businesses not on your phone---Call, Pizza hut in Bowie, MD...Instantly the phone dials. LOVE IT and Used it all the time on my Android devices.

I say call bankok garden 9 on Robert Oliver parkway and siri does it.. I think there is a particular way you have to ask for siri u identify businesses.. which is not what you would expect from a context understanding PA

People. You do realize that as much as everyone crows about Siri understanding real world context, she still only listening to certain words identified as commands right?
This isnt new. And it actually makes MORE sense to actually just give COMMANDS instead of trying to talk to the darn phone.
I honestly believe that when most of us use Siri we

  1. Make a concentrated effort to use 'conversational' tones. (Which kinda defeats the purpose)


  1. We already keep COMMANDS extrememly simple.

I mean really, who the heck would actually ask another person if we needed a raincoat or umbrella without first having the inkling of an idea that it was already raining?!

It's extremely deceiving though. I was under the impression that we were talking to an AI. But if you notice, the most intelligent things Siri says, Siri didn't ever say.
Like the said commercials, people wrote that. If you really ever tried to talk to Siri, you know that it has no idea what you're talking about. At all.
It's a nice toy, but you might as well just turn it off.

Better app integration would help. When I tell Jeanie on my EVO to "Navigate to " it automatically starts up navigation to direct me there. That is very useful when driving. I can toggle wifi, bluetooth, adjust volume, etc. And that's with a free 2nd-rate Siri knock-off.
To me, these things would seem obvious to do with Siri, yet as I understand it Siri can't do any of that. Considering Siri is supposedly the gold standard of voice control, I just don't understand why it is so lacking.

I just booked a trip with Ceap Carribean. Had to change the dates of travel. Cheap Carribean is charging us $549.00 to do this. They stated that it was Delta's charges to reissue airline tickets. After talking to Delta they stated they do not charge any secondary fees. There were no extra fees they knew of. Contacted Cheap Carribean again and they finally admitted to me that it was their fees. After complaining they said I still needed to pay their fees to rebook. I have traveled with Cheap Carribean before with 6 other people I will not travel with them again. Their fees to change anything are outragios.