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New to Siri? Here are the 10 best things to try

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Siri tips tricks best

By now you’re well aware of Apple’s Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant built-into the latest iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices from Apple.

In fact, Siri has even seeped into pop culture, be it a hilarious Big Bang Theory episode, celebrity endorsements and no shortage of YouTube shorts, parodies and songs (be sure to watch Siri: The Horror Movie).

You probably know about Siri’s funny responses to questions like “Where can I hide a dead body?” and “What’s the meaning of life?” – but there’s so much Siri can do to help you stay organized, productive and in touch with those who matter.

Want examples? How about 10 of them. Whether you’re new to Siri or haven’t yet experiemented with what “she” is capable of, the following are my favorite tips and tricks (shameless plug alert: I wrote the book, Siri For Dummies).

Reminders by Location

It's a breeze to ask Siri to remind you of something by time -- such as "tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., remind me to call the dentist to book an appointment" -- but did you know you can set reminders by location, too?

For example, hold down the Home button on your iDevice and ask Siri something like this: "Remind me to call Mom when I leave here." Whenever you leave wherever you are -- such as your office, a coffee shop or shopping mall -- Siri will remind you to call your mom. Your iPhone's integrated GPS means it's location-aware.

Alternatively, you can say "Remind me to take out the recycling when I get home." Because Siri knows where your home is (you might be asked to tell Siri this info once) you won't be reminded of the chore until you pull into the driveway.

Siri Can Read Your Texts

Many Siri users are aware that they can dictate their text messages or e-mails: Simply press and hold the Home button and say something like "Text Greg Black, Please don't forget to call the florist for tomorrow's event."

But did you know you can have your text messages read to you? Simply press and hold the Home button on the iPhone and say something like "Siri, read my texts." After Siri reads a message to you, you can say something like "Reply saying that's an excellent idea, thanks" or "Tell her I'll be there in 20 minutes."

You can also ask Siri something like "Do I have any texts from Mary?” -- and Siri will find them if they exist.

Post to Facebook, Twitter

Updated a year after Siri debuted, the latest version of your personal assistant now lets you post to Facebook or Twitter using your voice.

To post a status update to Facebook, via Siri, press and hold the Home button on your device and advise Siri what to post to your Facebook status by beginning with the words "Post to Facebook." Therefore you might say "Post to Facebook ‘The only thing I love more than Siri is the book Siri For Dummies.’" You'll see the words you said, and now you can say “Yes” to post it or tap the Post button.

For Twitter, the process is similar. Press and hold the Home button on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and say "Post to Twitter," followed by what you want to tweet out to the world. After Siri shows you what words you said -- and be sure to review it -- you can say "Yes" or "No" when you're asked by Siri if it should be posted to Twitter.

It's a Verbal Calculator, Too

Siri includes support from Wolfram Alpha's vast database of facts, definitions, and even pop culture information (go ahead and ask Siri who Justin Bieber is).

But you can also ask Siri to perform math problems for you, too. This comes in handy when you’re out with your significant other or friends at a restaurant and the bill comes. Let's say the bill comes to $200 and there are three of you. You can ask Siri something like "What's an 18-percent tip on $200, for three people?" and Siri will tell you everyone owes $12. Naturally, Siri can also handle multiplication, subtraction, equations, fractions, and more.

Find Your Friends (The Ones You Like)

If you're not familiar with the free Find My Friends app, it taps into your iPhone's GPS to provide your geographical location to people you choose to share this information with, such as a spouse, kids or friends. After you add consenting people to your list, you can see their whereabouts on a map (each person represented by a colored orb) and get the street addresses if you want.

You probably saw this one coming: You can use Siri to get the most out of the Find My Friends app. Press and hold the Home button and ask Siri "Where are my friends?" The app will open and you'll see who's around and how far they are from you. Now you can send someone a message like "Let's grab a latte."

You can also ask Siri something like "Is my wife at home?" or "Where's Jack Glass?" or "Find my sister."

Ask Siri to Play Movie Trailers

Siri can give you a lot of information about movies -- including reviews, box office information, actor and director lists, and more. One of my favorite ways to harness the power of Siri is to request a movie trailer -- and this one is great to show off to friends, too.

While not all movies are supported (especially older ones), Rotten Tomatoes has thousands of movie trailers of films to play for you if you ask for them.

After all, you might be on the fence about whether you want to see a flick -- or if it's appropriate for your little ones -- so watching a trailer is a good place to start. It's also fun to get excited about a film you're about to see by watching the trailer.

To ask for a trailer, press and hold the Home button and after the chime ask Siri to show you a movie trailer, such as "Show me a trailer for Zero Dark Thirty." If it's available, the trailer will start on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Book Restaurant Reservations

iPhone owners might know Siri can research high-rated restaurants and get their ratings and directions to them – but a lot of people aren't aware that they can also use Siri to book reservations, too.

The OpenTable app must be installed on your iPhone and you must be signed into your OpenTable account. Then you can ask Siri for a reservation at a particular restaurant (and time), a particular kind of cuisine, in a specific city -- or let Siri recommend something by simply saying, “Book a reservation for four on Wednesday night.”

To get going, press and hold the Home button and then ask Siri something like “Make a reservation for two at a Greek restaurant tonight.” Siri will show you a list of restaurants that meet your criteria, show whether they have tables available and (if so) at what time. Simply tap one of the selections to review details, and then tap Make Reservation to open the OpenTable app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Get Directions by Asking for Them

To use Siri for directions to an address or landmark, simply hold the Home button and, after the chime, tell Siri where you want to go by starting with “Take me to,” followed by the street address, city, and state or province. For instance, you can say "Take me to 500 Main Street," and Siri will look for that address near you, or you can say "Take me to 500 Main Street in McLean, Virginia," or you can say something like "Take me to Disneyland" or "Take me to Rubio's in Irvine" (and Siri might ask you which one) or "Take me home."

For any of these scenarios, Siri will open up the Apple Maps or Google Maps application (whichever is your default maps program), put colored pushpins at your location and the final destination, and you just need to tap Start to begin the turn-by-turn voice and visual directions.

FaceTime with Someone

As you likely know by now, Apple’s FaceTime is a free application -- bundled into many iOS devices and Mac computers -- that allows you to make video calls to friends, family, and colleagues.

As long as the people you call have Apple-compatible devices on their end, you can see them and they can see you, via the camera. It's like Skype, and you can use it over cellular connectivity or Wi-Fi.

With Siri, you need only ask to make that video call on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Just press and hold the Home button, and after the tone tell Siri the name of the person you want to FaceTime with, like this: “FaceTime Jacob Saltzman.” The next thing you know, you'll hear your device emitting the ringing sound.

Faster, Smarter Web Searches

If Siri and Wolfram Alpha don't know the answer to information you're asking -- such as "Who was the tenth president of the United States?" -- you get an automatic offer to do a web search for the information. (The answer, by the way, is John Tyler.)

If you want to cut to the chase, you can instruct Siri to do a search right away by beginning your request with “Search for” or “Do a web search for.” In fact, anything you’d search for on the Internet by using your fingertips, you can do with your voice through Siri -- and much faster, too.

For example, ask “Do a Bing search for puppy photos,” or “Do a Yahoo! search for Iranian traditions and customs” or "Do a Google search for tying knots."

You can even do searches for specific information within a site, such as asking Siri something like "Look for Canadian history on Wikipedia" or "Find me a pork rib recipe on Epicurious.com" or "Search for Nintendo Wii U reviews on Gamespot.com.”

More Siri tips, tricks and little-known features are in my paperback or ebook, Siri For Dummies (Wiley).

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