Voice commands are here to stay, and Siri has proved to be one of the better voice assistants available on the market. Best of all, you can even enable “Hey Siri” on an older unsupported Mac with a little ingenuity.
However, having Siri at the ready is one thing, getting the most of your virtual assistant is quite another. Ultimately, it comes down to knowing the right commands. Here we run through some that will undoubtedly be useful, but also a few that will add a little bit of fun and sunshine to your day.
Setting up your device
Getting the set up just right is one of those things we all wrestle with. Siri can take away the pain and save you the aggravation of digging around in the settings menu. All you have to do is say “Hey Siri, turn on (or off)…:
- Do not disturb
- Cellular data
And lots more. Other settings that are easy to manage via Siri include “increase (or decrease) brightness” or “turn up (or down) the volume.”
Organizing your day
The phrase “virtual assistant” has come to mean many different things over recent years. If you use Siri smartly, it really can be like having your very own PA sitting at her desk in cyberspace and keeping you organized. Siri might not be able to make you a cup of coffee, but she can perform many of the other tasks a real PA can do. Here are a few examples of commands you can try, all preceded by the usual “Hey Siri”:
- “Schedule a meeting with John Morris on Tuesday at 2PM”
- “Make a list called ‘Companies to cold call’”
- “Remind me to call Nick Pope at 3PM”
- “Add Acme PLC to the list of companies to cold call”
All work and no play?
We are all entitled to a periodic time out, and gaming is the perfect escape. One thing is certain, playing games is certainly not just for kids – in fact the vast number of online casino sites are specifically aimed at adult gamers. Siri can be the ideal companion for an evening at the casino.
She can even help you find the perfect venue – just say “Hey Siri, show me casino games.” If you are a fan of placing wagers on your cellphone, a growing number of mobile casinos have introduced voice integration to the commands. This means you can sit back and ask Siri to “Spin the reel” – perhaps she will get lucky!
Even if casino gambling is not your thing, Siri can help you find other types of games. Try saying “Show me driving games” or “Show me platform games” and you will soon have a whole array of choices laid out before you.
Your personal DJ
Most of us tend to use our MacBooks and cellphones for listening to music these days. In fact, the traditional music systems of years gone by are rapidly being consigned to the pages of history. Simply ask Siri to “play music” and she will access your library. From there, you can use all the usual commands you might have conveyed by a press of a button in the past, but you can also do a whole lot more. Here are some examples of music-specific commands worth knowing:
- Play Stairway to Heaven
- Skip to the next track
- Play music from 1993
- Play more like this
- Play songs from The Eagles
- Like this song
If you have music playing at random, you can even ask questions such as “What is this song?”
If our mobiles have made museum pieces of our traditional hi-fi systems, the same can almost certainly be said of the mobile sat-nav devices that were so popular a decade or so ago. While your cellphone is just as efficient at providing directions, there is always that risk that you will be tempted to fiddle with it while driving – and we all know the consequences can be deadly.
Navigation is therefore a hugely useful part of Siri’s toolkit, and one that can even save lives. To get started, you just need to say “Hey Siri, directions to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington,” and you will be on your way. While en route, you can get information relating to your journey, with questions along the following lines:
- How long before we arrive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
- What are the traffic conditions near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
- Where is the nearest gas station?
Siri can also help with other types of travel information. Meeting someone from the airport? You can check on their progress by asking Siri to “Check the status of Turkish Airlines flight TK 351.” If you are traveling on public transport, Siri can also work out the best route, for example if you ask “Show me the bus route to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”
We can add calculators to our ever growing pile of obsolete technology. The beauty of a MacBook or iPhone is that you also have all the resources of the internet at your disposal. This means you can do more than just perform basic mathematical calculations, and as usual, Siri is with you all the way. The sky is really the limit here, but here are a few you can try, most of which would have been way beyond your old Casio:
- What is the square root of 97?
- What is $1,000 in Euros?
- What is 20 percent of $38?
- What is the current Apple stock price?
- What is the time in Melbourne?
Here, it is also worth mentioning general times and dates – that’s right, your wrist watch and alarm clock can also go onto that pile! It is far easier to simply ask Siri to “set an alarm for 7AM tomorrow” or perhaps to “set a timer for 30 minutes” than to trouble yourself with pressing the right buttons.
We have already touched on the way Siri can interact with certain third party apps when we discussed gaming and navigation. However, these only scratch the surface of your virtual assistant’s capabilities. Of course, there are thousands of different apps we might install, and each of us uses them in different ways. But Siri is one step ahead, and monitors our habits, ready to help at a moment’s notice.
If you take a look in Siri Search, you will see suggested shortcuts that will perform custom actions just for you, whether it is ordering your favorite meal from the local pizzeria or posting an update on your social media channels. It really does take your VA a step closer to being a PA.