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A Beginner’s Guide To Using Apple’s Siri In iOS 7

Plenty of iPhone users will be upgrading their devices this week. As a result, many will experience Apple’s Siri, for the very first time. When it first launched with the iPhone 4s in 2011, the voice assistant feature received mostly mixed-to-positive reviews. Siri has steady improved since then and will finally leave public beta with the launch of iOS 7 this Wednesday, Sept. 18. Here are some of the key points beginners need to know about Siri:

Activation

The first time your iOS device starts, you’ll be asked whether to activate Siri. If you do not, you can do so later by going into the Settings app under General > Siri. You can also turn the voice assistant off by following the same path. The service is set to "on" by default.

Getting started

To talk to Siri, hold in the home button until you hear a prompt.

General features

Beginners should start slowly with Siri and only use the simplest of commands. These include some of the following:
  • Call …
  • Set up a meeting at …
  • Did the … win?
  • What’s the weather for today?

Male or female?

Siri’s voice gender can be male or female in iOS 7. To change, once again go into the Settings app under General > Siri. You can also change Siri’s voice to a number of different languages, including multiple versions of Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, or Spanish.

More advanced features

Once trying Siri’s more basic commands, you’ll be ready to try something new. For example, you can ask Siri to book you a table at your favorite restaurant using OpenTable integration. You can also ask Siri to turn on/off certain iOS functionality, such as airplane mode. The voice assistant also does a great job of showing what folks are saying on Twitter. Simply ask, “What is … saying?” to get started.

Use a clear voice

Like a real person does, Siri responds best to clear commands. It also helps when background noise is kept to a minimum.

Get connected

Siri works only when connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. If a connection isn’t available, Siri will respond accordingly.

Final thoughts

The best way to perfect Siri is by using it. Luckily, Apple has an excellent how-to guide built right into the service. To access this, click on the question icon on the main Siri screen at the bottom left. On this screen, entitled “Some things you can ask me,” are main categories such as Phone, Messages, Sports, and Facebook. By clicking on any of these, you can find sample questions. Under the category Movies, for example, you’ll see questions and statements like:
  • Who directed Finding Nemo?
  • I want to see the new Pixar movie
  • Three tickets to see Brave
Siri is definitely one of the most useful features of iOS. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. However, the voice assistant has come a long way in the past two years, making it worth your time. For more information on Siri, see: Icahn May Be Pushing For A Marriage Between Apple And Nuance CommunicationsSiri Gets Sassy With Swipes At Google Glass, and Hands-On Comparison: Is Siri In iOS 7 Better Than Siri In iOS 6?  
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