Siri, the voice-control ‘personal assistant’ Apple has featured in its iPads and iPhones since the iPhone 4s, has come in for more than its fair share of mockery and criticism, including most recently an amusing vignette on the Simpsons. But is it really as rubbish as all that?
We asked followers of the @MacworldUK Twitter feed if they use Siri, and we were surprised by the amount of positivity: the responses were roughly evenly split. (Although bear in mind that fans of Macworld are by definition unusually intelligent and tech-savvy people, so that may have skewed the results. And you’ll notice that quite a few of the following Siri users mention that they use it only rarely.) It's possible that the new Siri features added in iOS 7 have added to its appeal - but maybe some people aren't aware of all the updates.
Here are some of the features and functions that can make Siri truly valuable, together with highlights of the positive comments about Siri from our readers. Hopefully when we come to update this article in a year’s time we’ll find that even more of us are getting the most out of this much-maligned feature.
For the other side of the coin, however, take a look at 'The 10 worst things about Siri'.
- Funny things to ask Siri
- 10 things about Siri that make it worthwhile
- Siri troubleshooting guide
- Siri for Mac release date
Reasons to love Siri: Saves time typing long search terms, emails and messages
"Typing a long search term such as 'what's the seating capacity of Wembley stadium?' takes ages on the iPad keyboard (no swipe input) so Siri is a much quicker and easier way of doing this," writes Chris Martin.
"I also use it occasionally to write a long email or iMessage which, again, would take much longer if I typed it out.”
Reasons to love Siri: Great for setting alarms and reminders
Siri is at its best when performing small but potentially fiddly and often-repeated tasks. “It’s great for setting reminders and alarms,” says Adam Gates, echoing comments by many readers.
"For reminders/cal events/alarms it's good, because it cuts a longer route to set them up manually," writes Camillo Miller.
Our own Ashleigh Allsopp backed this up. "Setting alarms is great. I always use Siri for that. 'Wake me up at 6.30. Sometimes, it treats me by saying 'Alarm is set for 6.30. Don’t worry Ashleigh (Pronounced ASH-LAY), I won’t forget.'"
Jim Martin, a friend and colleague of Macworld, writes: "I use Siri to add calendar appointments: there's no faster way than by saying 'Set a meeting for next tuesday at 3.30pm about smartphone security'."
Sounds like a great meeting, Jim. See you there!
Reasons to love Siri: …and for other small tasks
Matt Brock added to the list of Siri-friendly tasks: "New to Siri but already use it for timers, alarms, Do Not Disturb, defining words, some other things. Could probably do more."
Dictating tweets is another possibility. Will Leitch puts Siri to work "only to dictate texts and tweets for speed". Be careful you don’t tweet something embarrassing by mistake.
David Goldenberg adds his two-pence-worth: “Reminders, FaceTime calls, find friends, appointments, set timer and dictations."
Reasons to love Siri: Handy in the car (or other vehicles)
Paul Rees admitted to using Siri, but insisted that this was "only in the car to read/compose iMessages."
Many other readers find Siri invaluable when in the car (although of course you should make sure you are able to give your full attention to the road when driving – not to mention obeying all relevant laws). Adam Gates added that he uses Siri "occasionally to read text messages whilst driving".
Siri can be used by cyclists too, although we’d really insist now that you take care and use it when fully stopped. Kiwi admitted to using Siri "once to make a call while cycling. That's it. Once." Ouch.
Reasons to love Siri: Handy when walking or running
Stephen Darlington told us that he occasionally finds Siri handy for dictating messages when walking. When you’re out and about, the last thing you want to do is delve through menus and type out lengthy texts.
Reasons to love Siri: Quick dialling
Siri can dial a contact almost instantly – a potentially great time saver if you don’t mind people hearing you talk to your phone. Duncan McKenzie said he uses Siri "all the time on my phone to quickly dial a contact's number".
It certainly skips several menu screens, particularly if the person you’re dialling isn’t on your list of recent calls.
Ashleigh Allsopp agreed: "I also use it to call people sometimes - 'call Ryan'. You don’t even have to unlock your iPhone for that one."
Reasons to love Siri: Accessibility advantages
Digital Arts editor Neil Bennett pointed out that Siri is brilliant for those with physical and visual disabilities – anyone who struggles to make out the details on iOS menus, for instance, may find it much easier to launch apps and dictate messages using their voice, and the same would be true of those with find their iPhone fiddly.
Reasons to love Siri: It’s fun!
Jane Jones doesn’t use Siri "unless I’m bored" – a criticism to be sure, but one that hints at one of the feature's little bonuses. It’s really rather entertaining, and there are lots of amusing hidden answers to discover. Or you can amuse yourself seeing which accents it has most trouble with:
Reasons to love Siri: And the kids love it
Adam Gates said he finds Siri handy to entertain the kids. Moses McNeil, meanwhile, says "My grandson uses it to entertain himself."
Either way, Siri is putting the work in, freeing you up to watch TV. (Macworld takes no responsibility for any ill effects from allowing Siri to raise your children and grandchildren.)
Reasons to love Siri: And finally…
Could Siri be an adequate replacement for human companionship? Macworld editor Karen Haslam reminded us: "We mustn’t forget that Raj in the Big Bang Theory formed an attachment to Siri when he was unable to speak to women."
We'll leave the last word on Siri’s benefits to Jacques Oeuf, who we think may have written this tweet with tears streaming down his face. "Only so people think I have a friend."