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5 Ways to Use Siri More Productively

It’s time to properly use Apple’s smart assistant.


You probably don’t take full advantage of Siri. Apple’s smart assistant has been on every iPhone since 2011, but the popularity and ubiquitousness of Alexa and Google Assistant have hindered its adoption. Apple is working to change that, however. The company frequently updates Siri so that it’s smarter, faster and more reliable than ever before. And with the impending release of iOS 11 and Apple’s smart speaker, HomePod, there’s even more reason to start using Siri more often.

If you own an iPhone, iPad, or Mac (or even Apple TV), Siri can be incredibly useful. The smart assistant can work with the third-party apps you already use; you just need to know how to set it up and ask the right prompts. And it’s worth it to do that work; it’s a small price to pay for keeping your eyes on the road, or just giving your thumbs a rest.

To wake Siri, hold your iPhone’s home button or say “Hey Siri.” Your device will need to be running iOS 9 or later. For more information, head over to Applee.


Draft Emails With Your Voice

Siri isn’t exclusive to Apple’s Mail app — you can add Gmail, Outlook and other third-party email accounts. To give Siri access, go into Settings, click on Mail, click Accounts and add your account. If you have multiple email accounts, make sure to set the email account you want Siri to use as your default account. You can do this in the Mail Settings, too — just scroll down to where it says Default Account.

Here’s what to say: “Hey Siri, send an email to Henry, with the subject line ‘Saturday Lunch,’ asking him if he’s able to make lunch on Saturday.” If there are multiple “Henry” contacts in your email, Siri will ask you which email address to use. And if you don’t give a subject line, Siri will ask you for one. Siri will then draft the email and ask you to review and send. You can also say “Siri, read it back to me,” and it’ll read you the email draft.


Add Calendar Events With Your Voice

Just like with email, Siri can work with third-party calendar apps. Add your account to your phone through Settings the same way you would with your email — you might just have to turn on calendars for your account that’s already within the Settings.

Here’s what to say: “Hey Siri, add an event to my calendar for this Friday at 1 p.m.” Siri will ask you what you want to call the event, and unless you want to add more details or a location, it’ll go ahead and add the event to your calendar.


Hail a Ride with Uber or Lyft

If you need a ride ASAP, it’s a lot quicker to ask Siri to find you one than it is to go through all the menus in an app. Uber and Lyft make it very easy to do so.

Here’s what to say: “Hey Siri, find me an Uber.” Siri will tap into your Uber app and find cars in the area. Then it’ll ask you where you want to go and you can say the address. If there’s a car nearby, it’ll tell you how many minutes away it is from you and ask if you want to request the ride or not. You can confirm verbally, and the ride request will go through. This process is the same for Lyft: “Hey Siri, find me a Lyft.”


Dictate Notes and Reminders

Both the Notes and Reminders apps for iOS are very useful, powerful tools, even as stock apps. If you’re driving and have an idea, you can use your voice to set a reminder, or take down a note for you.

Here’s what to say: “Hey Siri, remind me to switch my laundry in one hour.” Assuming it heard you correctly, it’ll reply, “OK. I’ll remind you.” You can also have Siri remind you to do something when you get to or leave a certain location. For example, tell Siri to remind you to pick up eggs when you leave a certain address (probably your home or work). The full command would be, “Siri, remind me to pick up milk when I leave [your work address].”

For notes, tell Siri: “Make a note that I need to watch Game of Thrones.” It’ll tell you that it made the note, and it will be saved for later.


Pay Your Friends Through Venmo

You can tell Siri to pay your friends without having to go into an app and do it manually. As of now, this voice feature is supported with PayPal, Venmo and Square Cash. If you have multiple payment apps on your phone, Siri will ask you which one you’d like to use.

Here’s what to say: “Hey Siri, pay Alex $10.” If you just have one payment app, Venmo for example, Siri will ask you if you want to pay Alex $10, and you can confirm the action with your voice.

iOS 11 will support ApplePay as a form of peer-to-peer payment within iMessage. We will see how this integrates with Siri, but it will likely be a very similar voice command.

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