All About Siri, Your iPhone's New Assistant

Siri is the highly anticipated addition to Apple's new iPhone, allowing you to control practically everything with your voice. It can check the weather, compose a text message, and find practically any information you want. Here's a look at how it works.

You activate Siri by holding down your home button, much like you already do (or don't) to activate Voice Control in iOS 4. From there you can speak to Siri and ask it questions. If it needs more information, it will respond to you with additional questions until it's ready to provide the information or carry out the task you've requested -- and it can handle a lot.

Check the Weather, Movie Times and More

If you want to know what the weather's like, where to find a good Italian restaurant wherever you are, the current price of a stock (or that stock's history), the square root of 4892, and much more, Siri can find that information for you. Among its sources are Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha, providing a wealth of useful information. Ask it how many days until a given holiday, what's on your calendar, or seek out pretty much any information you could want.

Listen to Your Text Messages and Respond with Your Voice

Siri can read you your text messages, or any other notifications in the notification queue on your phone. This is really handy when you're in the car and receive a message you can't look at. Siri can also compose and send replies based on voice input as well, so you can have a text-based conversation without ever touching or looking at your screen.

Manage Your Agenda

Siri knows what's in your address book and calendar, so it can easily inform you about your appointments and even add to them. Just tell Siri what you want to do and when, if you need a reminder, and it'll add it to your calendar or reminders. If you're using iCloud, that appointment will sync across your devices right away.

Transcribe Anything You Can Type

If you're using a keyboard in iOS, you can tap Siri's microphone icon and just speak instead. Siri will transcribe pretty much anything. Just tap the microphone button, talk, and let Siri know when you're finished. It will insert the text into your email, text message, note or whatever just as though you typed it yourself.

Siri is a feature of the iPhone 4S, so unfortunately it won't come as part of a free update. Whether it requires the A5 processor or Apple just wants another reason to get you to upgrade is unknown, but either way current iPhone users are out of luck. Hopefully we'll see Siri come to other iDevices in the future.

Photos by AllThingsD


    I don't know where I read this but apparently Siri is done remotely, so it'll need a 3G connection to do it's thing.

      Hardly surprising, the algorythms and processing power to make sense of the sound recording would chew through the phones processor, and wreck havock on the battery life, plus processing it remotely means it can be processed quicker using more powerful processors.

      Androids voice recognition works the same way; record the voice, send to the cloud, receive data back.

    Open the pod bay door, Hal.

      I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

    So...its voice commands? I've been enjoying that for years on "that other mobile OS" that shall remain nameless. Innovation.......*cough*

    @ mike. be careful! it seems that when you politely point out apple's "innovations" are anything but innovative you will draw the wrath of the angry apple fanboy

    If Siri processing is handed in the cloud then there should be nothing stopping it from being implemented on older hardware given a bit of jailbreak tweaking.

    Mike is right. I've had this feature for years. I don't care if Apple borrowed the idea, but I just wish that they would stop going on about it like they invented it and it's workings are voodoo (I think the term they use all the time is "magical")

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