Siri is the name of Apple's virtual assistant with a personality straight out of Pixar. You ask Siri questions or ask Siri do to thing for you using your voice, just like you would ask a real assistant, and Siri will get to working helping you stay in touch, on time, and informed. There's even a related service called Dictation that lets you enter text almost everywhere with just your voice. Siri and Dictation are online services, so you need to be connected to the internet to use it.
Siri is still in beta, and is limited in the number of devices languages and locations it supports. Also, Siri is currently limited to the iPhone 4S, though Dictation also works on the new iPad and soon, the Mac with OS X Mountain Lion. Apple has announced, however, that Siri will be coming to the new iPad, along with several more languages, locations, and features with iOS 6.
We'll expand this guide to include all of that, and more, when it becomes available this fall. But here's what you can do right now:
While in most cases you can start using Siri right out of the box, in some cases you may have to enable it first. There are also some settings you can configure, including ways to make Siri more secure. Since Siri can, if you choose, bypass your PIN lock and get to your contacts and other data, you should check out all your options and make sure you pick whatever blend of convenience and security makes the most sense to you.
Siri isn't a simple voice control system -- it remembers context and it can understand relationships. That means, for example, you can tell Siri to call your wife's iPhone, and Siri will know who that is and which phone number to dial.
Not only that, Siri can send SMS or iMessages and even email any of your friends, family, or co-workers simply by speaking their name -- or their relationship to you -- before the command.
Siri ties right into the Clock app on your iPhone, which means if you want to be woken up at 7am, have a timer set for 10 minutes so the cookies don't burn, or find out what the hour is in Australia before you call, Siri can help.
Siri was designed to help you get things done, and part of that job description is creating and updating your to-dos and lists of to-dos in the Reminders app. If you need to be prodded to pick up milk on the way home, order that present in time for the big party, or set up that lunch meeting before the end of the day, Siri's there to help.
Since Siri is meant to be your personal assistant, it only makes sense to have it schedule and manage your meetings and events. Asking Siri to create a Calendar event only takes a few seconds and is much faster than creating them manually and entering all the data yourself. Whether you need Siri to schedule a meeting, tell you what's on the agenda for the, or move an existing meeting to another time to make room for a conference call or a power nap, Siri will help make sure your schedule is set.
Being a virtual personal assistant, of course Siri can take a note! In fact, Siri can not only take a note, but update them as well. If you need something that's more permanent than a reminder, something more like an idea you don't want to forget, or a draft you want to get down while you're driving, Siri and the Notes app are the perfect combination.
Siri not only makes for a great digital assistant but a great weather forecaster as well. With a little help from Siri, you can make sure you're never caught without your umbrella, raincoat, or snow shovel again.
Siri can help you access your music more easily than ever. With Siri you can play tracks, albums, and entires genres without ever having to open your Music app. If you're in the car, Siri also makes for a safe way to keep your tunes going while keeping your hands on the wheel.
Siri isn't only your digital assistant, it can be your digital co-pilot as well, helping you find where to go, how to get there, and what else you can do along the way.
Right now, Siri location services are only available in the U.S., but come iOS 6 this fall, Apple will be expanding it to many more countries, and integrating Siri with new features, like iOS 6 Maps' turn-by-turn navigation.
If you need information, chances are Siri can help you find it. Apple currently enables Siri to search Yelp for restaurant info, Google (or Yahoo! or Bing) for general information, and Wolfram|Alpha for computational knowledge. You can use Siri to find anything you would normally type into a web search box, only there's no typing needed. Just ask, and you'll get back everything from the latest celebrity gossip to the answers to that nagging math questions to a listing of the best free apps for your iPhone.
If you have the need to check stocks or find out what the different exchanges are trading at Siri can help you do so and give you lots of up to the minute information about all your investments. Whether you want to find out if APPL is up, or the DOW is down, and by how much, Siri has you covered. (In terms of information, not money!)
If you still need help with setting up or using any of the features associated with Siri, head on over to our Siri Forum and ask away!