Summoning Siri on Your iPad
Starting with iOS 11, Siri comes set up on your iPad out of the box. You can’t turn her off, but you can control how you access her in Settings → Siri & Search. There are toggles for Listen for “Hey Siri,” Press Home for Siri, and Allow Siri When Locked.
Siri requires Internet access. A lot of factors go into accuracy, including surrounding noises and unfamiliar accents. And you also need to be comfortable with the fact that Apple is recording what you say, though the company says it anonymizes the data through something called Differential Privacy. The short version is that Differential Privacy allows Apple to collect anonymized data and mix it with noise in such a way that it can’t be tracked back to individual users.
You can call Siri into action in a few ways. The traditional way is to press and hold down the Home button until you hear a tone. Pretty simple, eh? Siri will then listen for your query, as shown here. Start talking, and your question appears on-screen.
You can also summon Siri by merely saying, “Hey Siri.” And yes, this is Apple’s answer to the “OK Google” voice command on Android devices. To take advantage of the Hey Siri feature, on iPads prior to iPad Pro, you have to connect your tablet to power. On the iPad Pro, you can use Hey Siri without plugging in your iPad.
Siri also responds when you press and hold down on the call button on most Bluetooth headsets. If you have Apple AirPods, two sharp taps on the outside of either AirPod will activate Siri.
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 at the bottom of the screen and try again.
Siri relies on voice recognition and artificial intelligence (hers, not yours). The voice genie responds in a conversational manner, and Siri sounds amazing in iOS 11. But using Siri isn’t entirely a hands-free experience. Spoken words are supplemented by information on the iPad screen.
Siri seeks answers using sources such as Google, Wikipedia, Yelp, Yahoo!, Open Table, Twitter, and WolframAlpha, making Siri your personal search agent for your iPad’s content or outside information. For instance, ask Siri to find all the videos you shot at your kid’s graduation party and she’ll oblige (at least if you tagged them correctly).
Siri on the iPad can also launch apps — Apple’s own as well as third-party apps. 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 say, “Find a good Italian restaurant near Barbara’s house,” and Siri will serve up a list, sorted by Yelp rating. Using Open Table, Siri can even make a restaurant reservation.
Starting in iOS 10, Apple opened up Siri to third-party app producers. For example, you can have Siri arrange a ride through Uber or Lyft, or pay a debt on your behalf through apps such as Venmo or Square Cash.
If you ask about a favorite sports team, Siri will retrieve the score of the team’s last game or the game in progress. And if you’re rummaging through a longish email that you can’t quite get through at the moment, you can have Siri set a reminder for you to follow up later in the evening.
If you don’t want Siri to have access to a particular app, just turn it off. For a list of apps, tap Settings → Siri & Search. Then tap through to any of your apps and you can turn off Siri support within that app.