If you're not an iPhone 4S owner, chances are that until today you haven't been talking to Siri, Apple's wonderful virtual assistant. With iOS 6, Siri debuts on the iPad 3, the iPhone 5, and the iPod touch fifth generation. A horde of new users are getting ready to jump on the Siri bandwagon this week.
You enable Siri from Settings > General > Siri on your device. The Siri pane lets you choose a language, link a primary contact ("My Info"), specify when you want the service to speak to you, and (for iPhone only) enable or disable the "Raise to Speak" option. Make sure Siri is switched to ON, and set "My Info" to point to your personal contact info on your device.
This sets the default contact for your identity from your personal address book. Choosing a contact lets Siri knows where "home" is, what your name is and so forth. It also allows Siri to associate relationships with your contact, such as "my spouse" or "my boss" or "my doctor." Make sure this option points to the appropriate contact so that when Siri tries to help you, it's working with the right person.
Next, select the language and region you want Siri to use for your interaction. This tells Siri how to talk to you and how to interpret your speech. It also sets Siri's gender. US English Siri is female; UK Siri is male.
The Voice Feedback option enables Siri to respond to you with voice as well as text. This is great for informal situations, but can be inappropriate for business settings. You probably don't want Siri speaking up in meetings, making snarky comments about your boss. Select from "Always" and "Handsfree only".
Finally, there's "Raise to Speak" -- for iPhones only. This toggle enables Siri to respond using input from the iPhone's proximity sensor. When you move the device to your ear, Siri speaks up discreetly, talking out of the phone's non-public speaker. Only you know that you're not on a real call. You're just privately talking to Siri.
After adjusting settings, you're ready to get started. Press and hold the Home button or raise the phone to your ear. You'll hear a double-chime letting you know that Siri is listening. Say "Hello" and get ready to begin your Siri journey.
To get started, try asking Siri about the weather. "Will it be cold tonight?" or "Should I bring an umbrella?" help showcase how fun and user-friendly Siri can be. Ask Siri about sports ("How did the Marlins do last night?") or find somewhere to eat ("I'm hungry!"). You can also ask Siri to tell you a joke, to sing you a song or you can inquire about its likes and dislikes.
Not sure what else you can say to Siri? Say "Please help me" or tap the small "i" on Siri's first "What can I help you with?" speech bubble. There's also a post to help with that!
Erica Sadun and Steven Sande are the authors of Talking to Siri, a handy guide for Siri users.