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How to use Siri for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

July 12, 2014

Everything you need to know about setting up and using Siri on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad!

Siri is the name of Apple’s personal digital assistant. It’s basically voice control that talks back to you, that understands relationships and context, and with a personality straight out of Pixar. Ask Siri questions, or ask Siri to do things for you, just like you would ask a real assistant, and Siri will help keep you connected, informed, in the right place, and on time. You can even use Siri’s built in dictation feature to enter text almost everywhere by simply using your voice.

How to set up, secure, and start using Siri

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. You can also change Siri’s language, control when Siri listens to you, and even adjust certain settings on your iPhone and iPad, all with the sound of your voice!

How to call, message, and email your contacts using Siri

Siri isn’t just another 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 iMessages or SMS, and even email any of your friends, family, or co-workers. No matter how you like to communicate, Siri makes it incredibly easy to stay in touch.

How to check for missed calls, listen to voicemails, and more with Siri

Not only can you dictate messages, emails, and more to Siri, you can also have Siri keep you up to date on incoming notifications on your iPhone or iPad. If you’re driving and receive a text message, instead of taking your hands of the wheel, just have Siri read the message for you. The same holds true for emails and much more.

How to set reminders and update task and to-do lists with Siri

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 of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. 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!

How to create, view, update, and cancel calendar events using Siri

Since is meant to be your personal assistant, it only makes sense to have it schedule and manage your meetings and events on your iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPod touch 5, iPad 4, iPad 3, or iPad mini. 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 day, 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.

How to set alarms and timers using Siri

Siri ties right into your iPhone or iPad’s built-in Clock app 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 keep you alerted and on time!

How to get driving, walking, and transit directions with Siri

Siri is a great utility to help you find your way home, help you around the big city, and figure out which route you should take to avoid traffic. No matter where you’re traveling to, Siri can worth together with the built-in Maps app to help you get where you need to go. If you need walking directions, Siri can even recognize third party apps, such as Google Maps, that you have installed and launch them for you.

How to check stocks and exchanges using Siri

Siri can’t be your financial advisor or broker — yet! — but Siri can look up stock prices and exchange positions for you. Whether you want to find out what’s happening with APPL or GOOG, or if the DOW or NASDAQ is up or down, Siri’s got you covered. (Just not your positions. Sorry.)

How to view, create, and update notes using Siri

Being a virtual personal assistant, you’d obviously expect that Siri can dictate notes. 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.

How to check the weather and get forecasts using Siri

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, snow shovel, or suntan lotion again.

How to play and control music using Siri

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.

How to search Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Wolfram|Alpha using Siri

If you need information, chances are Siri can help you find it. Apple currently enables Siri to search 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.

How to find movie locations, showtimes, reviews, ratings, and trailers using Siri

Siri has become quite the movie buff, able to tell you not only what films are playing at which theaters, but provide you with their ratings and reviews, and even play you their trailers. Want information about your favorite actor or a complete list of the movies they starred in? You need only ask!

How to look up sports scores and schedules, team rosters, and player stats using Siri

As of iOS 6, Siri has become quite the sports fanatic. Whether you’re on the road and desperate for the latest news, or at a bar and just as desperate to win a bet, Siri now has you covered. From current game scores to upcoming schedules, player stats to team rosters and standings, you can query and compare your soccer, football, baseball, basketball and hockey favorites from Italian Seria A, English Premier League, Dutch Eredivisie, Major League Soccer, French Ligue 1, Spanish La Liga, and German Bundesliga, Major League Baseball, NCAA Football, NFL, NCAA Basketball, NBA, WNBA, and the NHL.

How to find restaurants and businesses, read reviews, and make reservations using Siri

Siri can help you find restaurants and even book tables. You will need the OpenTable app from the App Store to complete your reservations, but Siri does a lot of the heavy lifting, including finding places and times, and showing you Yelp-powered reviews and pictures are also included so you can view all the information you need before booking, all in one place.

How to launch apps using Siri

Siri can launch your apps for you as well. Instead of scouring your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad Home screen, or digging through folders, for that app you know you have but just can’t find, as long as you remember its name, you can open it with Siri just by asking.

How to keep up with Twitter using Siri

Siri can tie directly into any Twitter account that you’ve got linked through the Settings app. While you can’t manage all aspects of your Twitter account β€” at least not yet β€” you can easily send out a new tweet and keep up with what’s going on. Whether it’s checking hashtags, viewing a specific users tweets, or something else, Siri’s got you covered!

How to get Siri to tell you a bedtime story

Anyone with small children will appreciate this little Siri trick! If you ask very nicely, Siri will even read to your kids β€” or even you, we won’t tell anyone! It may take a little coaxing but after if you put in a little effort, Siri eventually gives in to your pleas and reads bedtime stories!

Note: Originally published, December 2012. Updated, July 2014.

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