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This chapter is from the book


Siri provides a new and natural way to interact with a computer, enabling you to speak and be understood. On iOS, Siri listens to your commands and then performs your bidding, responding through speech or a visual answer on the device screen.

On OS X, Siri enables you to dictate into any application that normally offers text input. Some key points to take away from this chapter are as follows:

  • Think carefully about the information you are sending to Apple when you agree to enable Siri. That’s a lot of personal information you are trusting Apple with. Most people won’t be bothered by this, but you should make an informed choice, nonetheless.
  • If you don’t know what to say, ask Siri, “Help me,” or tap the small i that appears on the first speech bubble of each session. Siri is always happy to provide a list of categories and sample phrases.
  • You access Siri by pressing and holding the Home button, raising your iPhone to your ear, or squeezing or pressing the control button on a wired or wireless headset. On OS X, you customize how to trigger dictation through the Dictation & Speech control pane.
  • Talk slowly and clearly to Siri. Siri works best when you enunciate deliberately.
  • Remember that Siri is more about creating items than editing them. Build new appointments, create new notes, and write emails, but don’t expect to cancel, delete, undo, or modify those items using the Siri interface.
  • Siri talk bubbles typically lead to more actions, enabling you to jump into associated apps such as the Notes app for notes or the Contacts apps for addresses. You can tap both on your own talk bubbles and the ones Siri speaks to you.
  • Don’t be afraid of making mistakes with Siri. You can always reset your conversation or edit your speech bubble. Siri is designed to assist you, not to put obstacles in your way. Siri lets you add new text, edit the text you’ve already spoken, or redo your dictation from scratch. Use these tools to achieve the highest possible recognition rate.
  • Siri uses a separate audio volume system. So if you’re at a movie or a conference, make sure you mute your system audio and lower Siri’s volume control. To do that, invoke Siri and use the volume toggles on the side of the phone to lower the Siri sound level.
  • Siri simplifies your life. Whether it’s setting alarms (“Wake me at 7:15”), finding a friend (“Where is Barbara Sande?”), or updating your family (“Message my husband I’m on the way”), Siri is there to help you become more productive with less work. The more you learn about using Siri, the simpler these tasks become over time. For so many of these items, the issue isn’t whether Siri can handle those tasks; it’s whether you know that they’re there to use them. If this book helps you add a few essential ideas into your day-to-day Siri use, then we’ve proudly done our jobs.
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