By Nancy C. Muir

Siri is a very useful feature for interacting with your iPad and getting information. You can use Siri to ask for a map to a nearby restaurant, send an email, or tell you how far the Earth is from Pluto, for example. Siri will respond with an answer, display a map, or access web resources for you.

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Siri should be active when you get your iPad, but if for some reason it’s been deactivated, you can use Settings to turn Siri on by following these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen.

  2. Tap General to display the General settings and then tap Siri.

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  3. In the screen that appears, tap the On/Off switch to turn Siri on.

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    If you want to change the language Siri uses, tap Language and choose a different language from the list that appears.

    To change the nationality or gender of Siri’s voice from female to male or American to British or Australian, tap Siri Voice and then make your selections.

If you buy a car with the new Car Play feature, you can interact with your car using your voice and Siri. These cars are just now being manufactured, so stay tuned to Apple.com for news about how they’ll work.

If you want Siri to respond to your verbal requests only when the iPad isn’t in your hands, tap Voice Feedback and choose Hands-Free Only.

Here’s how this setting works and why you may want to use it: In general, if you’re holding your iPad, you can read responses on the screen, so you may not want to have your tablet talk to you. But if you’re puttering with, say, an electronics project, you may want to speak requests for mathematical calculations and hear the answers rather than having to read them. In such a situation, Hands-Free Only is a useful setting.

Siri is available on the iPad only when you have Internet access, but remember that cellular data charges may apply when Siri checks online sources if that Internet connection is via 3G/4G. In addition, Apple warns that available features may vary by area.