Understanding All That Siri Can Do on Your iPad

By Nancy C. Muir

Siri allows you to interact with many apps on your iPad by voice. You can pose questions or ask to do something, such as make a FaceTime call or add an appointment to your calendar. Siri can also search the Internet or use an informational database called WolframAlpha to provide information on just about any topic. You don’t have to be in an app to make a request involving another app.

Siri also checks with Wikipedia, Bing, and Twitter to get you the information you ask for. In addition, you can use Siri to tell iPad to play your voicemail, open and search the App Store, or control iTunes Radio playback.

Siri is the technology behind the iPad’s Dictation feature. When you have the onscreen keyboard open, note that it contains the Dictation key, which you can tap to begin to dictate and tap to end dictation. This works in any app that uses the onscreen keyboard.

You don’t need to use any preset structure for the questions you pose to Siri; you can phrase things in several ways. For example, you might say, “Where am I?” to see a map of your current location, or you could say, “What is my current location?” or “What address is this?” and get the same results. Also, Siri gets better at responding to your requests the more you use it, as it learns more about you from your browsing habits and requests.

When you ask a question about, say, setting up an appointment, Siri responds to you both verbally and with text information, in a form as with email or in a graphic display for some items such as maps. When a result appears, you can tap it to make a choice or open a related app.

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With iOS 8, you can activate Siri hands-free. With your iPhone plugged into a wall outlet, car power port, or computer’s USB port, just say “Hey, Siri” and Siri opens up ready for a command. In addition, with voice recognition, Siri displays in text what it’s hearing as you speak, so you can verify that it has understood you instantly. This streaming feature makes the whole process of interacting with Siri faster.

With iOS 8, Siri now supports 22 languages, so you can finally show off those language lessons you took in high school.

Siri works with FaceTime, the App Store, Music, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Maps, Mail, Clock, Contacts, Notes, and Safari.