As Siri listens to you speaking, look at the bottom of the screen (see Figure 1.11, left). A moving “wave” 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 Left: Siri’s feedback wave rises and falls with your speech. Right: A circle rotates as Siri contacts its servers to interpret your speech and respond to you.
To finish speaking, either pause and wait for Siri or tap the wave. Siri listens and then enters thinking mode. During this time, a rotating circle appears, letting you know that Siri is contacting Apple’s data centers for speech interpretation and processing (see Figure 1.11, right).
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 if you use Siri a lot.
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, Siri provides feedback in the shape of a microphone. 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 The microphone on OS X works as a level meter. The height of the purple bar in the microphone reflects the current volume of your speech.
Siri responds to both direct commands and random statements. If Siri can’t interpret what you’ve said as a request, it searches the Web for your statement. For example, Figure 1.13 shows how Siri responds to you when you say “platypuses.” Siri uses your word or phrase for a web search using its built-in set of helper sites: Bing, Wikipedia, and Wolfram Alpha.
Figure 1-13 Siri displays web searches for any words or phrases it doesn’t immediately recognize.