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iOS 6: Talking to Siri and saying "hi"

For many TUAW readers, this weekend represents a first encounter with Siri, Apple's virtual personal assistant. Siri is waiting to help you create reminders, send texts, look up information and lots more. Siri replaces the dance of your fingers on glass with conversations. You talk to your device -- and your device talks right back at you.

After setting up your preferences, it's time to give Siri a spin. You can access Siri in several ways:

  • Press and hold the Home button for a couple of seconds.
  • Raise your iPhone to your ear. (Not available on iPod touch or iPad -- they don't have proximity sensors)
  • Engage it from your wired (iPhone earbud-style) or wireless (Bluetooth) headset by squeezing or pressing the control button. Siri also works with many car kits. A small blue speaker icon appears in Siri's display when you connect through Bluetooth.

Chimes tell you when Siri is listening to you.

  • A higher-pitched "listening" chime (a C♯4 for the musically inclined) lets you know Siri's ready for you to speak. As you speak, the microphone icon acts as a level meter. The rise and fall of the purple bar reflects your speech pattern.
  • To finish talking, you can either pause or tap the microphone button. Siri plays a high-pitched "done listening" chime (a higher A♭4). A purple circle animates around the microphone button as Siri contacts Apple's home servers for speech interpretation.
  • If Siri does not hear any input, it stops listening and plays a lower-pitched "cancellation" chime (an lower A♭3). You can also cancel the interaction by tapping the microphone button during the "contact Apple" phase with the circling purple pulse.

Try saying "Hello" to Siri. Ask about the weather. "Will it be cold tonight?" "Should I take an umbrella?" Find out how your favorite teams are doing. "Will the Braves make it to the championships?" or "How is Manchester United doing?" Or just let Siri find you a place to eat dinner. "I'm hungry."

Then it's time to have fun. A lot of warmth, humor and whimsy went into Siri's database. Ask Siri if he/she is real. Ask it to open the pod bay doors. Say "OMG" or "LOL". Ask Siri when its birthday is. Tell it, "Take me to your leader." Siri isn't great at telling jokes or singing you a song, but you can try asking.

Not sure what else you can say to Siri? There's a post to help with that!

Erica Sadun and Steven Sande are the authors of Talking to Siri, a handy guide for Siri users.

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