What are some top tricks and tips for getting the most from Siri, the new natural language search engine on Apple’s iPhone 4S? In an illuminating Tech Talk session at MacWorld 2012, a Siri expert revealed some secrets around how to make Siri smarter and sexier.
As many Siri users know all too well, she sometimes commits “errors of interpretation.” If you want to correct her mistakes, though, you can first tap on the text she displays and then type over it, advised Joe Kissell, senior editor of the Apple news site Tidbits.
Alternatively, do you want to improve Siri’s pronunciation? Well, you can do so by adding phonetic first or last name fields to a contact record and spelling out the pronunciation.
Would you rather ask Wolfram?
Would you like your question to be answered by someone (or make that something) other than Siri — specifically, the scientific search query engine Wolfram/Alpha? Siri automatically routes some types of questions there, anyway, such as “What’s a 15% tip on $65 for four people?”
Kissell also pointed to a web site that will give you some roundabout ways of getting Siri to use SMS and e-mail services for sending Tweets or updating your Facebook status. Yet another web site shows you how to use Siri to check your bank balance.
If you’d like to run some additional commands using Siri, an iPhone app known as Vocal will give you the tools you need.
What might be next for Siri?
For heavy-duty hacking, the blog SiriHacks has a program called SiriProxy that lets you control devices in your home. That isn’t necessarily easy to do, though, Kissell told the MacWorld crowd.
So what’s on Kissell’s wish list for future versions of Siri? Along with the release of developer APIs, he’d like Siri to gain the ability to answer more complex queries and to widen her hardware support to encompass devices such as the iPad, Macintosh, and Apple TV.
Kissell recommends SiriHacks for “out-of-the-box thinking. He thinks that “Talking to Siri” — an eBook on iTunes by Steve Sand and Erica Sadun — is the most thorough book on Siri.