Apple’s smart assistant: What can Siri do?

Apple’s smart assistant: What can Siri do?

In 2011, Apple launched Siri – the world’s first virtual assistant – alongside iPhone 4s. This intelligent software has steadily evolved and can still assist with the simple tasks it did back then, but thanks to the updates that came with iOS 15, Siri can now help you with a wide array of requests, including complex tasks which rely on AI-powered technology. We break down exactly what to ask Siri, and the different functions this smart assistant can provide, in more detail below.

How to set up Siri

Setting up Siri for your iPhone is a straightforward process, one made even easier thanks to our step-by-guide:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and select Siri & Search.
  3. Toggle on Listen for “Hey Siri”.
  4. You will then have to train your phone to recognise you when you say the wake words, “Hey Siri”.
  5. Tap Continue when the on-screen prompts appear to follow the activation process.
  6. To capture a clear recording of your voice, you’ll be asked to repeat the phrase, “Hey Siri”.
  7. When you’ve completed the Hey Siri setup, tap Done.
  8. Siri’s now ready to go, and here to help you.


Use on-screen context

If one of your contacts sends you a message while you’re looking at your phone, or you’ve noticed a missed call, Siri can now use AI to respond to them, without you having to say their name.

Just ask Siri to reply by message by saying something like “Hey Siri, text them to say I’m coming home”.

React to requests

Communicating with Siri on iOS 15 has become even smoother, as the smart assistant is now able to utilise its recent history, remembering familiar names of people, places or objects.

This means that you don’t have repeat yourself when you’re making a request. So, if you’ve already asked, “Hey Siri, is X open today?” and you receive a reply, then you could ask, “Hey Siri, what time does it close?”.


Use shortcuts

The Shortcuts app is built-into iOS 15 and can be used in tandem with Siri

To create a new shortcut on the app, tap the + icon in the top right corner and choose Add Action. Choose the app you need to help you with that action, and then personalise your shortcut. For example, if you’re driving to work, you’ll want to select Apple Maps to set the directions - name and then save your shortcut, so that it’s ready to be used.

When you want to access a shortcut, all you have to do is say “Hey Siri, take me to the office” and it’ll automatically process your request, providing you with directions.

Translate on the go

iOS 15 features a system-wide translation tool that works on any app, so that you can convert chunks of text into another language. Siri capitalises on this, with a built-in feature that provides instant translation to your requests.

Summon Siri using your wake words, and then ask a question, e.g., ‘Translate “where is the beach?” into Portuguese.’ Siri will then perform the task, providing the option to play the translation. If you say yes, it will open this in the Translate app.


Customise Siri Responses

Siri may be your go-to tool whenever you’ve got a question, but there could be occasions when you want to customise how often you receive its spoken responses.

To change your preferences, tap Settings > Siri & Search > Siri Responses. You’ll then be able to choose whether to programme Siri so that it comes alive when you’ve switched off silent mode, if you only want the assistant to respond when you say, “Hey Siri”, or if you want Siri to stay responsive at all times.

For both your question and Siri’s answer to be displayed on the screen, tap the Always Show Siri Captions and Always Show Speech options.

Share content

Apple has used iOS 15 to demonstrate a new side of what Siri can do when used on an iPhone. Thanks to this development, you can now ask Siri to share on-screen items with your contacts.

So, if you’re listening to a podcast, have a Safari browser page open or a location typed into Maps, Siri can send it by message.

Just ask your smart assistant to “Send this to…” and it will follow your request. When you’re trying to send a file that can’t be shared, Siri will ask if you want a screenshot to be sent instead.

Announce calls and notifications

During busy times at work or if you’re on the road, you may want to know who’s calling, so that you can decide whether to answer it. To toggle this option on, select Settings > Siri & Search > Announce Calls.

You can choose a time this announcement: opting to be notified 24/7, being told only when you’re using headphones and are in the car, or just when you’re using headphones.

If you use your AirPods a lot, you might decide that you’d like Siri to announce whenever you receive a notification. To switch this option on, follow this path: Settings > Siri & Search > Announce Notifications.

You can then pick which apps you want to get notification announcements for and choose whether you’d like to get announcements of messages you receive when you’re using CarPlay.

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