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What Is Siri?

Siri is a personal assistant that resides on your iPhone 4S. Siri responds to the words you speak rather than requests you type. Just as you can talk to your iPhone 4S to perform a range of tasks (employing speech-to-text translation), you'll also hear Siri's human-like voice talk back at you (text-to-speech technology).

Siri is automatically built into the iPhone 4S, so you don't need to download anything to get going. When you turn on the iPhone 4S for the first time, you're prompted to set up a few things, such as enabling location information and using Siri, so be sure to choose Yes to these options.

Think of Siri as being both software and a service, since all of your questions and commands are instantly uploaded to Siri's secure servers, and the appropriate actions and responses are sent back down to the iPhone.

Siri can help you perform a number of tasks on your iPhone 4S much faster than if you typed them. Such tasks include things like:

  • Sending e-mails and text messages

  • Finding specific messages in your inbox

  • Having your texts read to you

  • Having your spoken words transcribed into text

  • Using the built-in Wolfram|Alpha database to quickly find useful information, such as dictionary definitions, mathematical equations, measurement conversions, or even fast facts and pop culture references

  • Searching the web for anything and everything, including info and media (such as photos and videos)

  • Posting updates to Facebook and Twitter

    Adding and accessing calendar appointments, alarms, timers, and reminders

    Give Siri a task, such as a reminder about an important date.
    Give Siri a task, such as a reminder about an important date.
  • Making and accessing notes

  • Getting directions from point A to point B, using the iPhone 4S's GPS radio

  • Finding businesses nearby — including directions on getting there — be it gas stations, banks, or restaurants; many businesses are also displayed by rating

  • Making phone calls and FaceTime video calls

  • Getting real-time information on weather, stock quotes, and much more

  • Accessing music and podcasts using your voice, including the ability to control audio playback

Whew! And that's just the start.

Unlike other speech-to-text technology, including those offered by other smartphones, Siri works on the operating system level and knows which app to open based on your request. (Most other smartphone solutions require you to first open up an app before you speak.) Using advanced artificial intelligence (AI), Siri makes connections based on your relationships, uses humor to make you smile, and is eager to learn more about your world and how to make your life easier to manage.

Also benefitting from speech-recognition technology licensed from Nuance (of Dragon NaturallySpeaking fame), Siri is also integrated with services such as Yelp, OpenTable, Google Maps, Taxi Magic, and MovieTickets.com, to name a few.

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