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How to use Siri, the voice assistant in iOS 12 for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch

How to use Siri, the voice assistant in iOS 12 for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch

Siri is activated by a long-press on the β€˜Home’ button, or by saying β€œHey Siri” if you have already enabled this feature. All Siri commands require a live internet connection, and some older devices may need mains power also.

This article is split in five sections:

Examples of what Siri can do

You can ask β€˜Siri’ to perform a wide variety of tasks such as:

  • Make phone calls and Facetime calls
  • Send emails and text messages
  • Set calendar events and reminders
  • Set alarms and timers
  • Obtain weather forecasts
  • Give directions on Apple Maps
  • Perform calculations
  • Open applications
  • Open accessibility options
  • Turn on certain accessibility features such as β€˜VoiceOver’.
  • Change setting on your device such as changing the brightness and volume or toggling Wi-Fi on or off.
  • Perform web searches
  • Play music, including particular artists, songs or albums
  • Control smart home devices
  • Siri now also works with a growing number of third-party apps such as Skype, Pinterest and Paypal

How to enable Siri

β€˜Siri’, and the β€˜Hey Siri’ command can be enabled during the setup process when you first use your new device.

If you chose not to set up Siri on first use, or want to change some β€˜Siri’ settings you can do so in the β€˜Settings’ app.

  1. Tap the β€˜Settings’ icon on your home screen. Fig 1.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 1
    Fig 1
  2. Tap on β€˜Siri & Search’. Fig 2.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 2
    Fig 2
  3. There are two ways of activating β€˜Siri’: You can say β€œHey Siri” or long-press the β€˜Home’ button to bring up the β€˜Siri’ screen. Tap the toggle switches next to these options to enable them. Fig 3.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 3
    Fig 3
  4. When you enable either β€œListen for β€œHey Siri” or β€˜Press Home for Siri’ you will receive an alert warning you that β€˜Siri’ sends information to Apple’s web servers in order to process your request. If you are a happy to proceed, tap β€˜Enable Siri’ or press β€˜Cancel’ if you don’t wish to enable β€˜Siri’ at this time. Fig 4.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 4
    Fig 4

β€œHey Siri”

  1. If you have chosen to enable β€œHey Siri” you will now be prompted to train your device to better understand your voice (Fig 5).
  2. Tap β€˜Continue’ to begin (see the first panel of Fig 5).
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 5
    Fig 5
  3. You will be asked to say, β€œHey Siri” three times (see the second panel of Fig 5).
  4. You will then be prompted to ask a couple of standard β€˜Siri’ queries such as β€œHey Siri, how’s the weather today?” (see the third panel of Fig 5).
  5. Click β€˜Done’ on the β€˜β€œHey Siri” Is Ready’ screen to return to β€˜Siri’ settings (see the fourth panel of Fig 5).Tip: If you want to retrain your device to better recognise your voice, just tap the toggle switch next to β€˜Listen for Hey Siri”’ twice (to turn the feature off and back on), then go through the β€œHey Siri” setup steps again.

Press Home for Siri

  1. To be able to activate Siri by long-pressing the Home button, tap the on/off toggle switch for 'Press Home for Siri'.

Allow Siri When Locked

  1. This feature allows you to use the β€œHey Siri” command and/or a long-press on the β€˜Home’ button to activate β€˜Siri’ when your device is locked.  β€˜Allow Siri When Locked’ is enabled by default. To turn this feature off, tap the toggle switch next to β€œAllow Siri When Locked” Fig 6.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 6
    Fig 6

Siri Voice

  1. You can change β€˜Siri’s’ voice to male or female and also pick from several accents. To change the voice β€˜Siri’ uses, tap on the toggle switch next to β€˜Siri Voice’. Fig 7.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 7
    Fig 7
  2. Tap on the accent and gender you wish to use. (Fig 8). When changing the accent or gender your device will automatically download a new voice pack. Fig 8.

    Note: To save unnecessary phone charges we recommend you are connected to Wi-Fi when you download voices rather than using a mobile connection.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 8
    Fig 8

Voice Feedback

By default, when β€˜Siri’ answers your query you will receive both spoken and visual, on-screen feedback.

  1. To change this setting, tap β€˜Voice Feedback’. Fig 9.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 9
    Fig 9
  2. On the next screen you can chose from:
    • Always On - To receive spoken and visual feedback, even when your phone is in silent mode.
    • Control with Ring Switch - When your phone is in silent mode you will only receive visual, on-screen feedback. Note: You will still receive spoken feedback if you use the β€œHey Siri” command or if your device is connected to a Bluetooth audio device, headphones, or CarPlay.
    • Hands-Free Only - You will only receive spoken feedback when you use the β€œHey Siri” command or if your device is connected to a Bluetooth audio device, headphones or CarPlay.Tap on the feedback option you would like to use. Fig 10.
      Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 10
      Fig 10

My Info

β€˜My Info’ is where you can tell β€˜Siri’ who you are by selecting your contact card from the β€˜Contacts’ address book.  β€˜Siri’ uses this information when answering location based queries such as β€œGive me directions home”.

  1. To use your contact details, tap on β€˜My Info’ (Fig 11) and select your name from the list of contacts that appears.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 11
    Fig 11

Note: If you haven’t yet created a contact card for yourself, open the β€˜Contacts’ app on your device, add your details and then return to the β€˜My Info’ section in β€˜Siri’ settings.

Apps

iOS uses β€˜Siri’ for the search functions on your device.  You can set permissions to allow β€˜Siri’ to show information from apps when using Search results, Look Up and Keyboard suggestions.

β€˜Siri’ can also perform tasks in some third-party apps such as β€˜WhatsApp’, β€˜PayPal’, and β€˜Pinterest’ without having to open the app itself first. You can enable this on an app-by-app basis.

  1. To see and change the permissions β€˜Siri’ has been granted, scroll to the bottom of the β€˜Siri & Search’ page and tap on an app in the list (in our example we tapped on β€˜Paypal’). See the first panel of Fig 12.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 12
    Fig 12
  2. If you don’t want β€˜Siri’ to show information from this app in Search results, Look Up and Keyboard suggestions, tap on the toggle switch next to β€˜Search & Siri Suggestions’. using β€˜Siri’ (see the second panel of Fig 12).
  3. If β€˜Siri’ can perform tasks in a third-party app you will see an option for β€˜Use with Siri’. Tap the toggle switch to allow β€˜Siri’ access to the app (see the second panel of Fig 12).

When happy with your β€˜Siri & Search’ settings, either tap the back button in the top left of the screen to return to the main settings screen or press your device’s β€˜Home’ button to return to the home screen.

Using Siri

You can launch β€˜Siri’ by pressing and holding your device’s β€˜Home’ button or by saying the β€œHey Siri” command if you have enabled it.

Note: Newer devices (iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPad Pro from 2017 onwards) can use the β€œHey Siri” command when running on battery power.  Older devices need to be connected to mains power in order to use β€œHey Siri”.

When launched, β€˜Siri’ will ask β€˜What can you I help you with?” accompanied by an animated sound wave at the bottom of the screen to show Siri’ is listening. See the first panel of Fig 13.

You can now ask your query or request. In our example below we asked β€˜Siri’ "What time is it" (see the second panel of Fig 13).

We received a spoken and visual response which you can see in the third panel of Fig 13.
Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 13
Fig 13

If you want to edit a query using the keyboard tap the β€˜Tap to edit’ button that appears under your original query (see the first panel of Fig 14).

Type your changes (see the second panel of Fig 14) and then press β€˜Done’.  β€˜Siri’ will now answer the edited query (see the third panel of Fig 14). In our example, we asked β€˜Siri’ the time. We then changed our query to ask what the time was in Australia.
Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 14
Fig 14

Tip: If you want to ask another query while β€˜`Siri’ is still open, tap the animated β€˜Siri’ icon, (that appears once a query has been answered) and start speaking, (see circled in the third panel of Fig 14).

β€œHey Siri, what can you do?”

To find out more about what β€˜Siri’ is capable of doing on your device just launch β€˜Siri’ and ask β€œWhat can you do?” (Fig 15).  You will be presented with a list of apps that β€˜Siri’ is able to interact with (see the second panel of Fig 15).

Tap any app name in the list to see how β€˜Siri’ can be used and see examples of how to phrase your queries. Fig 15.
Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 15
Fig 15

Examples of using Siri

Add a new Calendar event

In our example below, we ask β€˜Siri’ to add a new β€˜Calendar’ entry for a dental appointment.

  1. Launch β€˜Siri’ by pressing and holding the β€˜Home’ button or by saying β€œHey Siri”, then say β€œAdd a calendar event for dentist appointment”. Fig 16.
  2. β€˜Siri’ will then ask for the date and time of the appointment. When the sound wave appears at the bottom of the screen (showing that β€˜Siri’ is listening) give β€˜Siri’ the details. Fig 16.
  3. In our example, we have given the date as 21st July at 2.30pm. Fig 16.
  4. β€˜Siri’ then asks you to confirm the details are correct before adding the event to your calendar.
  5. When the sound wave appears again to indicate β€˜Siri’ is listening say β€œYes” or β€œConfirm”, or tap the β€˜Confirm’ button on the screen. Fig 16.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 16
    Fig 16

Add a new Reminder

In our example below we will ask β€˜Siri’ to set a reminder to buy milk the following day.  In this example, we have asked the query using the β€œHey Siri” command.

  1. Say β€œHey Siri set a reminder to buy milk tomorrow at 5pm.” See the first panel of Fig 17.
  2. β€˜Siri’ then sets the reminder and gives spoken and visual confirmation that the reminder that has been created. Fig 2. See second panel of Fig 17.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 17
    Fig 17

Ask for directions

If you ask for directions β€˜Siri’ will open the Apple Maps app and show your route. In our example we ask for directions to London.  Because we have only asked for the end destination β€˜Siri’ uses our current location for the starting point.

  1. Launch β€˜Siri’ by pressing and holding the β€˜Home’ button or by saying β€œHey Siri”.
  2. Say β€œGive me directions to London”. Fig 18.
  3. β€˜Siri’ opens the Apple Maps app with the route already plotted. Fig 18.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 18
    Fig 18

 

Type to Siri

If you would prefer to type your β€˜Siri’ commands instead of speaking them you can enable the β€˜Type to Siri’ option in Accessibility settings.

Enable β€˜Type to Siri’

  1. Open the β€˜Accessibility Settings’: Settings > General > Accessibility. (See the article Open Accessibility Preferences on this website for more information.)
  2. Under the β€˜Interaction’ section tap on β€˜Siri. Fig 19.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 19
    Fig 19
  3. Tap on the toggle switch next to β€˜Type to Siri’. Fig 20.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 20
    Fig 20
    The options shown in Fig 20 for β€˜Voice Feedback’ are the same as those that appear in the β€˜Siri & Search’ settings window. See the β€˜Voice Feedback’ section above for more information about these settings.

Using β€˜Type to Siri’

  1. Long press on the β€˜Home’ button to activate β€˜Siri’.
  2. Type your request into the search box. In our example, we ask for β€˜Siri’ to set a timer, see the first panel of Fig 21.
  3. Tap β€˜Done’ when ready, see the second panel of Fig 21.
  4. β€˜Siri’ will provide visual and audio feedback, see the third panel of Fig 21.
  5. If you would like to ask another request while β€˜Siri’ is open, tap on the search box at the bottom of the screen to bring up the keyboard. see the third panel of Fig 21.
    Siri – iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 12 Fig 21
    Fig 21

    Note: You can still use the β€œHey Siri” command to open β€˜Siri’ if you wish to speak your request.

More information:

Apple’s guide to using Siri: https://www.apple.com/uk/ios/siri/

iMore’s guide to using Siri with your Contacts: https://www.imore.com/how-call-message-and-email-your-contacts-using-siri

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