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This chapter is from the book

Launching Siri on iOS

On iOS, Siri lets you use your voice instead of your fingers to send messages, schedule meetings, choose music, and more. You use Siri conversationally. You talk to your device, and your device talks right back to you.

You can access Siri in several ways:

  • Press and hold the Home button for a couple seconds.
  • Raise your iPhone to your ear. (Not available on iPod touch or iPad.)
  • Engage it from your wired (iPhone earbud style) or wireless (Bluetooth) headset by squeezing or pressing the control button. Siri also works with many car kits. A small blue speaker icon appears in Siri’s display when you connect through Bluetooth.

A chime tells you that Siri is listening and ready to follow your commands. Make sure that Siri is enabled and that you’ve got a good Internet connection. If so, you are ready to take off and start exploring this innovative voice-driven service.

Saying Hello to Siri

Siri uses several chimes. These audio cues let you know when Siri is listening to you. A higher chime starts a session, and a lower one cancels it. To hear this on the iPhone if you have Raise to Speak enabled, raise your phone (turned on, of course) to your ear and then place it back on a table. The high chirps mean Siri is listening; the low chirps mean it has stopped listening. On the iPod touch or iPad, press and hold the Home button (high chirp) and then tap the Siri microphone (low chirp).

Try the following: First, start a Siri session. Either raise the phone to your ear or press and hold the Home button. If Siri is already displayed, tap the Siri microphone button.

Say “Hello,” and then pause. Siri uses pause detection to know when you’ve stopped speaking. You now hear a second set of chirps—a higher-pitched chirp of acknowledgment, in this case—but this time you hear them without moving the phone away from your ear or having to tap the microphone button.

If you have a good Internet connection—a requirement of working with Siri—you’ll hear it respond to you. Siri responds with “Hi” or “Hello,” perhaps adding your name (see Figure 1-8). As you talk, Siri creates a scrolling list of responses so you can review the conversation to date. By default, Siri automatically scrolls up to the most recent response, so you might want to pull down on the list to see what has transpired before.

Figure 1-8

Figure 1-8. Saying hello to Siri.

To summarize, you can start talking to Siri in these ways:

  • Pressing and holding the Home button for 1 to 2 seconds
  • Raising a phone to your ear
  • Tapping the Siri microphone button

Siri plays chimes that indicate the state of your interaction. By listening for these chimes, you’ll know how Siri is responding to you.

  • Its higher-pitched “listening” chime (a C#4 for the musically inclined) lets you know Siri’s ready for you to speak.
  • To finish talking, you can either pause or tap the microphone button. Siri plays a high-pitched “done listening” chime (a higher Ab.jpg4).
  • If Siri does not hear any input, it stops listening and plays a lower-pitched “cancellation” chime (a lower Ab.jpg3).

Canceling Siri

If you ever need to stop whatever Siri is doing, just say “Cancel” and then either tap the microphone button or press the Home button.

Because Siri remembers your ongoing thread of conversation, you might need to reset your current conversation at times. Say “Start over” or “Restart” to begin a new dialogue. Siri responds with a response such as, “Okay, Erica, what’s next?” or “What can I help you with?”

Repeating Siri

When you did not quite catch what Siri last said, say “Say it again.” Siri repeats its last response. This feature gives you a second chance for comprehension, or offers you the possibility to repeat a particularly clever punch line to share with others.

Quitting Siri

Leave Siri mode by pressing the Home button or saying “Goodbye.” This returns you to your normal iOS home screen. If you say “Quit,” Siri responds, “Did I say something wrong? If you really want me to go away, at least say ‘Goodbye.’” and “Quit? Did you mean ‘Goodbye’?” (See Figure 1-9.)

Figure 1-9

Figure 1-9. To leave Siri mode by voice, say “Goodbye.” Asking Siri to quit or go away does not end your Siri interaction.

Asking Siri to “go away” or “leave” won’t work, but you can say any of the following to exit Siri mode.

  • Goodbye
  • Bye
  • Bye-bye
  • So long
  • Adios
  • See you later
  • See you

Getting Help

Siri provides suggestions on what to say. Just say “Help me” or “What can you do?” Siri displays a list of categories, such as Phone, Music, Messages, and Calendar, along with a sample phrase for each topic, which you see in Figure 1-10. Tap on any category to view an extended list of sample phrases for just that category.

Figure 1-10

Figure 1-10. Not sure what to say to Siri? Siri can offer suggestions. Just say “Help” or “What can you do?” A tiny i appears at the right of Siri’s first “What can I help you with” message whenever you invoke it. You can see this in Figure 1-11. You can also tap this i to request this help screen.

For example, if you’re interested in contacts, you tap What’s Emily’s Address. Siri then offers the following examples. They provide a range of functions that showcase how you can interactively ask about the people in your address book.

  • What’s Emily’s address?
  • What is Susan Park’s phone number?
  • When is my wife’s birthday?
  • Show Lindsey’s home email address.
  • What’s my brother’s work address?
  • Show Brian Conway.
  • Find people named Park.
  • Who is Jimmy Patrick?
  • My mom is Susan Park.
  • Jimmy Patrick is my brother.
  • Call my brother at work.

This onboard help system lets you know the kinds of interactions that Siri supports. They inspire you to expand your Siri vocabulary and use the assistant system more flexibly.

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