How to Use the Siri Assistant for iOS

Person using Siri
Siri on IPhone. Oli Scarff / Staff Editorial #: 129202541 Collection: Getty Images News

Siri is a voice-activated intelligent personal assistant that works with an iPhone to allow a user to control the phone by speech. It can understand basic and advanced commands, as well as colloquialisms that are common to human speech. Siri also replies to the user and takes dictation to transcribe voice to text, which is particularly handy for sending text messages or brief emails.

The program was originally released for the iPhone 4S. It is available on all iPhones, iPads and iPod touch players running iOS 6 or later. Siri was introduced on the Mac in macOS Sierra.

Setting Up Siri

Siri requires a cellular or Wi-Fi connection to the internet to function properly. Set up Siri by tapping Settings > Siri on the iPhone. In the Siri screen, turn on the feature, choose whether to allow access to Siri on the lock screen and turn on "Hey Siri" for hands-free operation.

Also in the Siri screen, you can designate the preferred language for Siri chosen from 40 languages, adjust Siri's accent to American, Australian or British, and choose male or female gender.

Using Siri

You can talk to Siri in a few ways. Press and hold the iPhone Home button to call Siri. The screen displays "What can I help you with?" Ask Siri a question or give an instruction. To continue after Siri responds, press the microphone icon at the bottom of the screen so Siri can hear you.

In iPhone 6s and newer, say "Hey, Siri" without touching the phone to summon the virtual assistant. This no-touch approach works with earlier iPhones only when they are connected to a power outlet.

If your car supports CarPlay, you can call Siri in your car, usually by holding down the voice-command button on the steering wheel or by pressing and holding the Home key on the car's display screen.

Wondering if you can use Siri on devices other than the iPhone and iPad? Check out How to Get Siri for Android or Windows Phones.

App Compatibility

Siri works with the built-in apps made by Apple that come with the iPhone and with many third-party apps including Wikipedia, Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, OpenTable and Shazam. The built-in apps work with Siri to allow you to ask the time, place a voice or FaceTime call, send a text message or email, consult maps for directions, make notes, listen to music, check the stock market, add a reminder, give you the weather report, add an event to your calendar and many more actions.

Here are some examples of Siri interactions:

  • "Move my 2:30 meeting to 3:00."
  • "Show all my photos taken last Christmas."
  • "Who won the Redskins game last night?"
  • "What song is this?"
  • "Read my latest email."
  • "Find a table for four tonight in Miami."
  • "Call my mom."
  • "Launch Angry Birds."

Siri's dictation feature, which is for short messages of about 30 seconds, works with third-party apps including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Siri also has some features that aren't app-specific, such as the ability to provide sports scores, stats, and other information and voice-activated launching of apps.