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How to Activate Siri on Your iPhone 4S

3 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of New Features of the iPhone

When you first set up the iPhone 4S, you have the option of turning on Siri. If you did so, you’re good to go. If you didn’t, tap Setting→General→Siri and flip the switch so that On is showing. (If you do turn Siri off on the 4S, it effectively turns Voice Control on.)

To call Siri into action, press and hold the Home button until you hear a tone and then start talking. The bottom of the screen shows a picture of a microphone inside a circle:

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The question, “What can I help you with?” appears on the screen.

Alternatively, when the screen isn’t locked, bring the phone up to your ear and wait for that same tone, and then talk. Siri also responds when you press a button on a Bluetooth headset. If you’re concerned about Siri intruding when you raise the phone up to your ear to make a call, head to Settings to turn the Raise to Speak feature off.

What happens next is up to you. You can ask a wide range of questions or issue voice commands. If you didn’t get your words out fast enough or you were misunderstood, tap the microphone icon and try again.

Siri relies on voice recognition and artificial intelligence. She’ll respond in a conversational (if slightly robotic) manner. But using Siri isn’t entirely a hands-free experience. Spoken words are supplemented by information on the iPhone screen.

Siri seeks answers from the web using sources such as Yelp and WolframAlpha. She taps into Location Services on the phone. And Siri works with numerous apps on the 4S: Phone, Mail, Safari, Music, Messages, Calendar, Reminders, Maps, Weather, Stocks, Notes, Clock, and Contacts.

Indeed, from your contacts, Siri might be able to determine who your spouse, coworkers, and friends are, as well as knowing where you live. You might ask, “How do I get home from here?” and Siri will fire up Maps to help you on your way. Or you can ask, “Find a good Italian restaurant near Barbara’s house,” and Siri will serve up a list, sorted by Yelp rating.

Siri requires Internet access. A lot of factors go into its accuracy, including surrounding noises and unfamiliar accents.

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