11 Practical Uses for Siri
Siri has been a tool that has been out for a long time, relatively, and in the beginning was little more than a buggy gimmick. Which is why I never really bothered to use it and subsequently trained myself to ignore it. But during that time, Apple has improved it immensely, and there are a ton of very good practical use-cases that are worth training oneself to use, whether for productivity, ease of life, organization or even to save a life. I’ve been using apps to perform several of these tricks, but Siri can easily replace them with a better system, and she works with other apps, appliances, and your iPhone or Mac to become a powerful assistant, which most people have on them at all times.
So, in no particular order, here are
11 great and practical uses for Siri:
- 1. Do basic math. Tips at restaurants, splitting tabs, double-checking receipts, and other quick mathematical questions can be asked, and immediately answered.
- 2. Estimate your time of arrival. If you use Apple Maps, which I sometimes do but must admit I’m loyal to Google Maps, you can simply ask Siri “What is my ETA?” and she will tell you your approximate time. Pretty handy.
- 3. Tell Siri to call you a nickname. This one is more for fun, but if you ask Siri a question, she’ll answer with your nickname. In my case that would be The Big Daddy. But be careful because this new name will show up in your contact card, so if you share your contact card with a job prospect, for example, they may start calling you by your cute nickname. Just a warning.
- 4. Open your apps. If your apps are a mess or you’re lazy, you can just say to Siri “Siri, launch ___” and it will open automatically. Pretty handy, especially if you’re like me and have hundreds and hundreds of apps, even if you only use a fraction of them at any time. It stinks when you’re trying to find an app quickly and fumbling around with screens.
- 5. Location-based reminders. This is a good one for when you’re on the move and can’t write down a note or reminder, like when you’re driving. For example, if you’re cruising along and suddenly remember that you left a load of wet clothes in the washer, you can tell Siri “Siri, remind me when I get home to change the laundry.” And via GPS and detecting your home network, she will pop up a message reminding you to do so. Or, if you need to get gas the next time you leave home or wherever, just say “Siri, when I leave here, remind me to get gas.” Just be sure to clear these reminders, or she will nag you about it every time.
- 6. Set and delete Alarms. Many people use Siri to set an alarm, but you can also use her to delete all your alarms, which are automatically saved when you create one. They aren’t all active, of course. But in addition to telling Siri “Siri, set an alarm for 30 minutes from now,” you can also tell Siri “Siri, delete all my alarms,” which will erase the endless list of alarms you’ve accumulated for all those naps.
- 7. Call Emergency Services. This is good for the infirmed, elderly, or klutzes who might find themselves trapped under something heavy. But here’s an important part you have to remember. This works with iPhone 6 and above which can activate Siri by simply saying “Hey Siri.” Tha’s one part. But if your phone is across the room and you’ve been immobilized, learn to say “Hey Siri, call 911 ON SPEAKER.” You have to say “On Speaker” or else you won’t be able to use it. Very important!
- 8. Email, text, and voicemail. I have shied away from using voice-to-text because it hasn’t been successful for my accent in the past. But after living away from the South for a while and Apple improving voice recognition, this isn’t an issue any longer, so it’s something I intend to use more often. Typing long messages on a tiny keyboard is, frankly, a frustrating pain. And texting and driving is a death wish. For texts, you can simply say “send a text message to Hank and tell him I want to eat lunch with him later.” and Siri will do it. Of course, you can also use Siri to place calls, place calls using the speakerphone, make emails and all that.
- 9. Weather Updates. The weather here in Louisville isn’t as unpredictable as it is in other places I’ve lived in coastal areas, but this can still be helpful when needed. All you say is “Siri, what’s the weather going to be like this weekend?” or whenever you’re interested in, and she’ll tell you.
- 10. Create and manage lists. I love lists, and use them a ton for my poor memory/crazy life. Organization is important to efficiency, which is important to saving time, and time=life. And often money as well. I use Notebook a ton, which is a great integrated app, which now works with Siri. Just say “Siri, add ___ to Notebook.” You have to be sure to say “To Notebook.”But for Apple’s Reminders app you’ll need to go into the Reminders App that Apple provides, and create a list, such a “To Do” or “Groceries.” Then you simply say “Siri, add “potatoes to my Groceries list” or “Siri, add pay my cable bill to my To-Do list.” And boom- she does it. There are a lot of creative ways to use this feature, in conjunction with lists eve. If you enter the address of your hardware store, you can use geofencing to tell Siri, ” Siri, when I go to the hardware store, remind me to buy a hammer,” and she’ll add it to your list. And you can keep adding items, and when you arrive at the hardware store next time, you’ll get a ping with your list of reminders.
- 11. Home Automation. You can buy smart lightbulbs now that connect to your iPhone. Philips Hue and LIFX are the big dogs in this space, but the LIFX bulbs have been deemed brighter and have more features than the Philips Hue. And you don’t need a hub to use them like the Philips Hue; you only use your HomeKit app. And like everything on this list, you can control them using nothing more than Siri.Here are some other appliances you can use with Siri around the house:Thermostats: Nest: http://amzn.to/2ps9WTu ; Ecobee2: http://amzn.to/2q2YiAA ; Honeywell (least expensive) http://amzn.to/2qnBChrWall outlets: KooGeek (works with Homekit as well) http://amzn.to/2ps2Xdp. WeMo also will do this but you need to be using Amazon’s Alexa/Echo for that. These allow you to plug in any kind of appliance and then be able to control it remotely. Make sure to set the device into the “on” position so that it can be controlled via the smart plug.
- BONUS TIP! A TON of people uses PayPal these days to transfer money. And you can use Siri to make it even easier. Simply say “Siri, send $20 to mom using PayPal,” and confirm your payment with Touch ID or log in to the app with username and password and voila! Mom is $20 richer.Plus much more can now be controlled by using nothing more than your voice with Siri. It’s very cool, easy and affordable if not free. Why wouldn’t you?