I realized the other day that I’m not using Siri at anywhere near her potential, so I set out to make a list of her latest capabilities that might help me be more efficient throughout the day.
Here’s my takeaway list of 10 practical things she can do for you:
Have Siri tell you when someone arrives (or leaves). If you’re sharing your location with someone (configurable in the Friends app or by clicking details while in a text with someone) you can then trigger events off based on their location, which is called Geofencing. So you can have Siri let you know if they leave, when they arrive, etc. Let me know when Jason leaves work.
Have Siri send texts for you. You can simply say things like, “Tell Daniel to bring some coffee.” It’ll ask if you’re ready to send, and you say yes. That’s it. No looking at your phone, no opening the app, no special syntax. Just talk to Siri as if she’s a friend sitting next to you. Tell Mike I’m bringing the food and will be there in five minutes.
Ask Siri what song is playing. Hear a cool song? Just say, “What song is this?” and she’ll identify it for you. What song is this?
Have Siri remind you to do things at certain times, or based on location. You can be reminded to do something when you get home, when you leave work, or at a certain time. Remind me to pick up flowers at 5:30pm. Remind me to pick up the Fedex package when I get home.
Have Siri play a certain song or artist while you’re driving. This also works for bands, artists, genres, etc. Play Purity Ring. Play No One Knows.
Ask Siri to find the best restaurants nearby. This one is killer. Everyone knows the Yelp shuffle, but Siri presents an alternative. Ask her what’s rated highest and and then have her take you there. Find the best Mexican restaurant nearby. What’s the best seafood within 20 miles?
Have Siri make reservations for you. Make a reservation for two at Ken’s Steakhouse.
Siri can take you to specific places. It’s nice to not have to go to Maps, enter addresses, start navigation, etc. Just talk to Siri and she’ll take care of it. Unsupervised Learning — Security, Tech, and AI in 10 minutes… Get a weekly breakdown of what's happening in security and tech—and why it matters. Take me to Andrew’s house. Take me to work. Take me home.
Siri can tell you where your friends are. If you’re sharing location data with your closest people this will become extremely handy. Where is Andrew? How far is Andrew from me?
Siri can search your email for you. You can say things like, “Find an email from Chris about the new schedule.” Once she’s found it, she can also read it to you. Check my email for a message from Mike about schedules.
The missing manual
Beyond those 10 that are likely to help you almost every day, here are some commonly overlooked features that range from trivial, to “should have been in the manual”, to spectacular.
You can establish relationships by saying, “Kristen is my boss.”, or “Michael is my brother.” This will allow you to speak to Siri more naturally, e.g.: “Tell my boss I’ll be 5 minutes late to the meeting.”
You can have Siri call you a nickname going forward, like Sir, or Mistress, or Holy One. Mostly fun, but could be useful.
When Siri tried but failed to interpret your command correctly, you can say, “Change that.” and edit it to what you meant.
You can have Siri turn on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode for you. Just tell her like you’d tell anyone else.
If you install Wolphram Alpha you can do all sorts of crazy stuff through Siri, like seeing what planes are flying above you at this very moment, asking how many calories are in a food you’re eating, having it create you a secure password, etc.
Have Siri calculate your tips for you. Ask her to give you a 17% tip on a $134 dollar check, for example.
Siri can also post to Twitter or Facebook for you. You do it the same way you tell her text for you: Just say, “Post to Facebook that Siri is powerful.”, or “Tweet that I’m in San Francisco if anyone wants to meet up.”
You can use Siri to open any application on your phone. “Open
Siri can read you your voicemails. “Read me my latest voicemail.”
Siri can tell you the time and weather in any location. “What’s the weather like in Paris?”, or “What time is it right now in Munich?”
For sports you can ask who’s ahead in rankings, who’s playing games on the schedule, and who’s winning in current games.
Siri can control many of your phone’s settings, allowing you to say things like, “Dim my screen.”, or “Disable bluetooth.”, etc.
You can have Siri set up meetings for you. “Create a meeting tomorrow at 3pm called Logistics, and invite Abhishek.”
Siri can define words for you. “What’s the definition of polyglot?”
Have Siri set timers for you. “Set a timer for 4 minutes.”
Tell Siri to flip a coin for you. “Flip a coin.”
Ask Siri for a random number. “Give me a random number between 1 and 1000”.
You can ask Siri what movies are playing nearby, and what their ratings are. “What movies are playing nearby?”, or “How did the movie Mad Max rate?”
You can have Siri set alarms for you.
Siri can also search the web for you. “Google for news about the train wreck.”
Siri is too powerful to avoid using. She’s far more powerful than when she launched in 2011 and remove a lot of the need to authenticate to your phone or type.
Give her another try, starting with the 10 workflows above, and if you know of any tips I should add, please mention them in the comments.
Some of these require that you install Wolfram Alpha, which is free. It’s something you should have installed anyway.
For song identification you need to install Shazaam.
To play songs over your car’s audio system, you obviously need to be connected via bluetooth or USB.
Reservations work off of OpenTable or a similar app.
The more data you have on contacts and relationships with those contacts the better Siri can do using natural language. Saying, “Take me to Andrew’s house.”, for example, requires that you have a home address entered for him.