How to define a contact's relationship using Siri

Seen the iPhone 4S commercial demonstrating Siri and wondering how to get it to understand relationships so you to can say things like "Call my wife"? You can always add relationships through Contacts but it's much easier to just get Siri to do it for you.

  1. Activate Siri by holding down on the Home button.
  2. In this example, I want to create a relationship with my brother. I simply tell Siri "Matthew is my brother."
  3. Siri will bring up a message asking to confirm that I want her to remember Matthew as my brother.
  4. I either speak Yes or tap to confirm.
  5. I can now say things to Siri like "Send a message to my brother." She will know to send a message to Matthew.

Now if you have more than one brother (I don't) - you'll probably need to specify a bit more. You can use things like "oldest brother" or however you want Siri to distinguish people. You can also remove relationships from within your own contact card as well if you need to.

Once you've got the relationship defined, you can tell Siri to do really cool things like -- "Tell my brother I'm running 15 minutes late", or "remind me to change the lightbulb when I get to mom's house".

Want more Siri tips? Check out our TiPb Forums for even more tips and tricks!

UPDATE: To get the most value out of relationships, you need to be syncing contacts with iCloud. Exchange, including Gmail over Exchange, only supports a few kinds. (]

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[via [@theiBlog]

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to define a contact's relationship using Siri


All Siri does is add in the contact card a nickname..That can be done manually by going to contacts and add field and then nickname. Also if you have a iPhone 4 or 3GS and do this old Voice Control can be done by saying call/facetime the nickname just like Siri

I heard this is buggy if you sync your contacts with Google contacts. Can anyone confirm?

It's true, if you use google to sync contacts, it doesn't work so well. The reason is that google doesn't support relationship fields other than spouse name. Anything else (father, mother, etc) is tossed out during the next sync. I tested this with a standard contact and a google contact, so it's a google problem.
You can use iCloud to sync your contacts, that does support relationship fields.

Google does support other relationships (not arbitrary relationship name, but there are about 14 available in the Google Contacts webapp), but the iOS Contacts app only shows spouse/assistant/manager, and only those types get synced over.
Whether that is a limitation of iOS support for Exchange fields, or of Google not sending over any other types for iOS to see, I have no idea.

Apparently Siri will also search nicknames, so you can add the relationship there and it will work (and sync)

I also use google exchange and iCloud. I didn't convert anything, just turn contacts On in iCloud settings. You'll then see both listed as different groups in your contacts.

It says you can "Remove" relationships from within your own contact card. SIRI does not add nicknames to your contacts. Although adding a nickname to your contact could achieve some of the functionality of this, it does not compare to being able to simply speak to the phone: "Tell my brother I'm running late about 20 minutes.", and then have it text for you.