Siri is Apple's virtual digital assistant. It uses natural language voice control and sequential inference to listen to what you say, in the context of what you may have already said, and provide the best possible information or answer it can. Siri can help you stay connected, organize your life, and get thing done both professional and personal. It can also do a lot of cool tricks... all you have to do is know what to ask!
On many recent iPhones and iPads, if they're plugged in, you can say "Hey, Siri!" to activate voice control, even if you're across the room. It's got Voice ID to try and make sure you're the only one who can command it too. On the latest iPhones 6s, you can enable "Hey, Siri!" even when they're not plugged in for easy voice control any time.
Put it on speaker
If you're using "Hey Siri!" to place a call, and want the call itself to be just as hands-free, you can do that as well. Simply tell Siri who you want to call and say you want the call to be on speaker. For example, "Hey, Siri! Call mom on speaker!" The phone call will start and you'll hear the ringing loud and clear, even from across the room.
Siri can now remind you of "this", where "this" is almost anything you're looking at when you invoke Siri. It can include email or text messages, web pages, even podcasts you want to listen to. Just say: "Remind me of this" and Siri will add it to Reminders with a link back to not only the app, but the specific content.
Roll the dice
Siri can help you get your game on, whether it's for random number generation, Dungeons and Dragons, and just plain fun. Simply tell Siri to "flip a coin", "roll a die" or even ask "Siri 8 ball". The die can have any number of sides you like, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20... even outlandish numbers like 37.
Find my photos
Sir now has access to the Photos app, so it can search for picture and videos based on time, place, album, and even person (if you've set up Faces in Photos for OS X). If your albums have event-based names, you can ask Siri to "Show me photos of Eddy from Karaoke in San Francisco last fall."
If you have HomeKit accessories you can use Siri to control your house. You can control specific accessories by name: "Turn off the kitchen light", enact scenes: "Game time", and even wind down for the day: "Hey Siri, goodnight!".
Siri has amazing sense of humor, and can show it off in the most unexpected ways. For example, ask Siri: "What's zero divided by zero?" Sure, 0/0 sounds like dull math, and what Siri shows isn't in any way exciting... but wait until you hear the reply! Then ask Siri "Why did the chicken cross the road...?"
The name's Bond...!
Siri will default to using your name and the name of your contacts. If you want to change that, tell Siri: "Call me 'honey muffin' " or "Gwendolyn is my mom". If Siri has trouble pronouncing a name or nickname, tell it: "That's not how you pronounce 'A Lie'!" and it will ask you for the correct pronunciation.
Do not disturb
If you were out way too late, if you need to get some work done and people just won't leave you alone, if all you want is a little peace and quiet, tell Siri: "Do not disturb". If you want to go nuclear, you can tell it: "Delete all alarms" and even "Airplane mode".
Are we there yet?
Not only can Siri take you where you need to go, it can tell you how long it will take you to get there. You can tell it: "Take me home" to get quick directions. "Walking directions to Starbucks" if you prefer sneaker to tire. Even "ETA" to find out how much longer you have to go.
Siri is the faster way to add anything to a Reminders list, and that means it's the fastest way to add anything to a shopping, packing, party, or any other list. To get specific, tell Siri: "Add bacon to shopping list" or "Add bacon to packing list" (what?).
Thanks to Wolfram Alpha, Siri is great with numbers. For simple math, ask Siri: "What's 10 times 10?" or "What's the square root of 50?". For tips, ask: "What's the tip on $100". For conversions: "How many kilometers in a mile". For chance, tell it: "Flip a coin" or "roll the dice".
Instead of excusing yourself, racing upstairs, jumping out the window, and tearing off to the only open Quicky Mart, ask Siri: "When's Kelly's birthday?", then: "Set a reminder" for the date or, f it's already too late: "Buy an iTunes gift card!".
When you're telling Siri what to type, you can dictate punctuation like "comma" or "elipses", symbols like "hashtag" and "copyright sign", and even emoticons: "smiley" or "winky". You can format with "new line" or "new paragraph", prevent formatting with "hyper no space space", and get loud with "ALL CAPS".
Siri can set reminders, make appointments, send messages and email, Tweet or post to Facebook, but it can also keep you up to date. Ask Siri: "What time is sunset in Cupertino?", "What's the weather in London?", "What's on my calendar?", "Planes overhead?", "Pictures of the Golden Globes", or "Trending on Twitter".
Siri can quickly settle arguments, bar bets, and flat-out fights. Ask Siri: "Who starred in the Matrix?", "Who won the last SuperBowl?", "What did Apple close at?", or "How many calories are in a Big Mac?". And if you're wrong and end up paying for dinner or a movie, Siri can find you tickets and book a table at a restaurant as well.
If Siri gets something wrong, or if you realize you asked the wrong question, you can tel Siri to: "Change" things like dates and times. You can even tap the question you asked and manually type in different words to alter the query.
Siri has a sense of humor. Kids can talk to Siri like a virtual friend. Kids of all ages just have some fun. You can give Siri all sorts of pop culture references: "What do you think of Google Now?", "tell me a joke", "read me a Haiku", "can you beat box?"
Because Siri is a service, Apple can update it any time. That means special occasions like Christmas or even special events like the announcement of the next iPhone. Keeping with the character, the replies are almost always short, sweet, and meant to make you smile.
Hit the music!
Siri has full-on integration with Apple Music. You can tell Siri to play any song—or any cover of a song—as well as any station. You can access Beats 1, shuffle your tunes, get top lists from any musical era, and more. There's so much we had to give Siri for Apple Music it's own list!
If you've got an Apple Watch, then you've got Siri on your wrist as well! Simply lift the watch to your mouth, say "Hey, Siri!" and tell it what you want. Siri for Apple Watch can't do everything Siri for iPhone can do, but it can handoff to your iPhone if you want to do more. Again, there's so much we've made a list just for Apple Watch!
There's a lot more you can do to make your workflow faster and more convenient!
- Secret Apple Watch controls
- Secret Siri commands
- Secret Safari shortcuts
- Secret Mail shortcuts
- Secret keyboard shortcuts
- Secret power-saving shortcuts
- Secret Apple TV controls
Updated January 2016.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.