Typing on a small screen is for suckers. Say it instead. If you have an iOS device, Siri, Apple‘s much-improved digital personal assistant for iOS, can take care of many things faster than you can through tapping.
With iOS 9, you don’t even need to touch your iPhone or iPad to get things done — just say “Hey Siri” and it will be ready to execute your command. We know, Siri isn’t perfect — it can’t access every app you have, for example, and it requires an Internet connection to do anything — but here are some ways you should take advantage of its services.
“Find photos I took in San Francisco.”
Instead of scrolling through thousands of photos looking for the ones you took on a specific trip, ask Siri to narrow down the options for you. As long as you have Location Services enabled for the Camera app, your phone tags each photo with the place you took it. You can also ask Siri to show you photos from a specific date, month, or year.
“Remind me about this when I get home.”
Siri has been able to create reminders based on places for a while, but with the latest iOS, it now can better interpret your reminder needs. For example, if you’re looking at a page and want to remember to look at it again later, ask it to remind you about “this,” and it understands you mean that page. You can also use a time instead of place.
“Turn on Bluetooth.”
The Settings app in iOS buries a lot of features and requires several taps — if you can even remember which area a setting is located. Just tell Siri to do it for you. This works for many features, like Do Not Disturb, but not everything: Siri can’t enable your Personal Hotspot, but it can take you directly to the screen to do so.
“How many teaspoons in a tablespoon?”
So you spend way too much time trying to figure out common measurement conversions when cooking. Now simply say, ” Hey Siri,” and let it do the work for you — no mess on the screen. This also works for math equations.
“Read the most recent message from Jen.”
Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel. If you must check messages and emails while driving, let Siri find and read them to you. After speaking the message, Siri then asks, “Would you like to reply?” You can dictate your response or say “No” to end the session.
“Make a reservation at a four-star restaurant.”
Not sure where to eat tonight? Siri’s almost as good as a concierge. Using ratings from Yelp, it will display a list of restaurants meeting your criteria, whether star rating, location, or style. If the restaurant uses OpenTable and you have the app installed, Siri can book the reservation for you, too.
“Turn on the upstairs lights.”
If you have HomeKit-enabled smart lights or outlets, Siri can switch them on for you. You can also set up a series of commands that are triggered by a keyword; for example, “Goodnight” could turn off the downstairs lights, turn on the upstairs lights, and lock the doors.
“Set an alarm for 6:30 a.m. tomorrow.”
Your iOS device is also a great alarm clock, but setting the time and date requires way too many tabs and scrolls. One simple voice command takes care of it. You can also ask Siri to set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes when you want to take a break.
“What’s the name of this song?”
It happens a lot: You’re in a bar or store and a song comes on that grabs your attention. Just ask Siri. It engages Shazam to identify the song and tells you the name and who performs it, then saves it to your “My Shazams” list if you want to find it again later.
“Play the top songs in Singer-Songwriter.”
Siri can play any music you have in the Music app, and it becomes much more powerful when you have an Apple Music subscription. Now you have easy access to 30 million songs, including playlists created by the service.