As Siri listens to you speaking, look at the microphone in the center of the Siri button at the bottom of the screen (see Figure 1-11, top). This microphone acts as a level meter for your spoken input. It provides you with volume feedback as you speak and lets you know that Siri is in listening mode. If you do not respond after a few seconds, Siri stops listening and plays the end-of-listening chime.
Figure 1-11. Top: Siri’s microphone button acts as a level meter. The purple bar rises and falls with your speech. Bottom: A purple light circles the microphone button as Siri contacts its servers to interpret your speech.
To finish speaking, either pause and wait for Siri or tap the Siri button. After listening, Siri enters thinking mode. During this time, a purple glow circles the button, letting you know that Siri is contacting Apple’s data centers for speech interpretation and processing (see Figure 1-11, bottom).
Siri works with both 3G and Wi-Fi Internet connections, so you can use it wherever you are. The data demands are fairly minimal, so you probably do not need to worry about depleting your monthly allocation by using Siri too much.
If Siri is able to process your statement, it tries to interpret it and provide some kind of response for you. If Siri cannot call home to its Apple data processing center, it informs you about the situation, saying something like, “I’m sorry, I’m having difficulty accessing the network.” Try moving to a location with a better Internet signal or try again later.
Listening on OS X
On OS X, the Siri microphone works much the same as it does under iOS. As Figure 1-12 shows, the microphone acts as a level meter, and an animated dot presentation shows that the computer is actively contacting servers for speech interpretation. OS X does not use pause detection, so you must either click Done or press Return to finish your dictation.
Figure 1-12. Top: The microphone on OS X also works as a level meter. The purple bar’s height reflects the current volume of your speech. Bottom: OS X’s trio of dots lets you know that Siri is contacting servers to interpret your speech. The purple dot cycles from left to right during this time.
Siri responds to both direct commands and random statements. If what you said cannot be interpreted as a request, Siri offers to search the Web for your statement. For example, Figure 1-13 shows how Siri responds to the word platypuses. If you choose Search the Web, Siri uses your word or phrase for a web search using your default engine. Set your default search engine in Settings, Safari, Search Engine, and choose from Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.
Figure 1-13. Siri offers web searches for any words or phrases it doesn’t immediately recognize.