Chapter 3. Siri & Speech

Siri, the iPad’s famous voice-recognition technology, is actually two features, not one. First, there’s dictation, where the tablet types out everything you say. It’s faster than typing with the little onscreen keys, and it’s described in Chapter 2.

Second, there’s Siri the voice-controlled minion. You can say, “Wake me up at 7:45,” or “What’s Megan’s work number?” or “How do I get to the airport?” or “What’s the weather going to be like in San Francisco this weekend?”

You can say, “Make a note to rent Titanic this weekend.” Or “How many days until Valentine’s Day?” Or “Play some Electric Light Orchestra.”

You can also ask questions about movies, sports, and restaurants. In each case, Siri thinks for a few seconds, displays a beautifully formatted response, and speaks in a calm voice.

In iOS 8, Siri gains two new magical powers. First, you can operate her hands-free, as long as your tablet is plugged into power. Instead of pressing the Home button to get her attention, you just say, “Hey, Siri.”

Second, you can now ask her, “What song is that?” or “Name that tune.” She’ll identify whatever song is playing in the background, just as the popular Shazam app does. It’s creepy/amazing.


Siri requires an Internet connection. When your iPad isn’t in a WiFi hotspot (or when your cellular iPad doesn’t have service), you can’t use her.

Siri also requires an iPad that’s newer than the iPad 2.

Siri Voice Command

In 2010, Apple bought Siri, a company that made a voice-control ...

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