How to Avoid Common Problems with the iPhone 4S’s Siri Voice Controls

The most heavily advertised feature of the iPhone 4S is undoubtedly its Siri voice controls. According to dozens of Apple ads, you can use Siri to tell your phone to look up directions, write text messages or handle dozens of other functions.

Unfortunately, Siri is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s clearly an improvement over the basic voice controls of the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS, but controlling Siri is often difficult. Here are some tips for making sure that Siri understands you.

Understand The Basic Commands. Siri works better if you know the terms that it understands. Telling Siri to “find” something will usually result in a Google Maps search, while using words like “How many” will lead to a Wolfram Alpha search. You can also use Siri to turn alarms on and off, but you can’t use it to control third-party apps. As you use your iPhone 4S, you’ll get a better understanding of Siri’s capabilities, but you’ll have a better chance of getting a fast result if you start your sentence with the right words.

Make Sure You’ve Got An Internet Connection. Siri will use an Internet service to figure out what you’re saying. It will work the best if you keep a steady connection and if you close any apps that might be using your phone’s Internet connection at the same time. If you frequently talk into Siri only to get a “Sorry, I can’t take requests right now” response, you’ve probably got some programs open that are taking priority over Siri. Close them by double-clicking the home button and holding your finger over one of the app icons, then hit the little red minus song to exit apps.

Use The Suggestions. If you’re using the iPhone 4S’s voice commands to write an email or a text message, remember that the phone will highlight words that it isn’t sure about. You can tap on these words to see a list of similar-sounding words. This can help you avoid a bunch of unnecessary typing.

Watch The Ambient Noise. You have to speak really clearly to make sure that Siri gets what you’re saying, but even if you’re enunciating perfectly, you might have trouble if you’re holding your phone a few feet away from your head and there’s music playing or a heavy wind. Remember that you can always cut out ambient noise by holding your phone to your head, which automatically brings up Siri (unless you’ve disabled this in the iPhone’s settings menu).

Have any other tips for using Siri? Post below.


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