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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
I'm Jess Stratton, and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. This week, I'm going to show you some cool things that Siri can do. Siri is the popular voice-activated assistant on certain Apple IOS devices. If you have an iPhone 4s or later or any iPad Mini, a third generation iPad or later, or a 5th generation iPod Touch, you can use Siri. Now I'm sure you've seen the commercials and have heard a lot about Siri, but you know I like showing you neat things, and neat ways to use neat things.
Well, Siri can do all sorts of neat things, including launch apps, bring up GPS, wake you up in a half an hour, set a timer for 20 minutes, send text messages, it can look up information for you such as the weather, and even add and change calendar appointments and reminders. I use Siri all the time and I am going to show you some of my favorite things to use it for. Now to use Siri, simply press and hold the home button on your device. For example, whats on my schedule next Thursday? >> You have a couple of appointments for Thursday.
>> When you're all done, simply press the Home button again, and Siri goes away. There's some more things that it can do. It can set reminders. Remind me when I get home to send the file to Sally. >> Here's your reminder for when you get home. Shall I create it? >> Yes. >> Okay, I'll remind you. >> This is a great one, because you're always thinking of things that you need to do right when you get home, when you're not at home. Now location based reminders are a huge part of what makes Siri really useful.
But to set your home location, you first need to create a contact entry with all your contact details in it. After that, go into Settings and set that contact entry as your info in Siri. To do that, go into Settings, tap General, tap Siri, and then tap My Info and choose your contact entry. Now you can also set relationships. For example, create contact entries for all your family members, then tell Siri that those contacts are those relationships.
For example, Murray Anderson is my sister. This becomes useful because it lets you use a more natural language when you talk with Siri. For example, if I wanted to use it in a text message. Tell my husband I'm running a few minutes late. >> Ready to send it? >> No. >> Okay, I won't send it just yet. >> I had to say no to that one, otherwise, I will thoroughly confuse my husband. Now, you can even ask Siri questions. Who won the Nobel Prize in 1963? >> Okay, Give me a moment. Here's what I found on the Web.
>> So right away, you can see that Siri can look up things for you. It can answer questions like, what year was the movie Blade Runner released? How many calories in one cup of cranberry juice? And even really useful things when you're out on a business lunch, like, what's a 20% tip on a $63 bill? But a really neat thing about Siri is that you can precede it with the word Wolfram to use the Wolfram Alpha engine. Wolfram Alpha, if you've never heard of it, is a computational engine on the Web that anybody can use.
There is a website for it. You can ask it questions which will give you factual answers to which it can perform computations and give it the result. The difference in Siri and Wolfram Alpha, is that Siri will bring you to a page of search results, where Wolfram Alpha will actually give you the answer. If you want to use Wolfram Alpha with Siri, you need to proceed the statement with the word Wolfram. Let's try it. Wolfram, random integer between 1 and 20. >> Here is what I found.
>> And there's my number, a six. I can also create passwords for you. Wolfram, create a password. >> I'm on it. Alright, here's what I got. >> The more you use Siri, the more you'll find out how truly useful it really is. The other important thing you need to remember is that Siri works best when you just talk in your normal voice and keep going. For example, this is my normal voice that I'm using right now. And you heard me when I was using Siri. That's what it likes. You don't have to talk louder, you don't have to talk softly, or fast, or even that clear.
The more you use it, the more you'll train Siri to recognize your voice, and learn from it. In fact, Apple wants you to use your normal language with Siri. So go ahead and give Siri a try if you haven't already. I guarantee you'll be hooked.
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