Siri: What it is and how Apple’s virtual assistant works


The way you use your smartphone has been radically transformed in recent years. Instead of taking long ways to access an application or perform all functions by touching your finger on the screen, today it is possible to use several features of the device with only voice prompts.

Much of this convenience came with the arrival of virtual assistants, with each platform having its own. Apple’s, called Siri, started in a limited and discreet way, but today it is one of the most popular services for those who use the company’s ecosystem on a daily basis.

What is it for?

The most basic way of conceptualizing Siri is from its function. It is a virtual assistant, that is, an application that performs basic tasks for you based on everything that your device is capable of doing, saving time and actions.

In this way, she is able to perform tasks within applications – such as calling someone, setting an alarm clock and creating an appointment in the calendar, among other commands.

Siri is also able to answer questions from internet searches, ideal for questions that arise suddenly.

In addition, integrated with the Casa application, Siri can also serve as a kind of command center for connected houses, without the products being from Apple. This goes for doors, sensors and smart lamps, for example.

Siri was born outside the company, as a project for a research center in artificial intelligence. Apple purchased the technology in 2010 and the following year introduced the personal assistant as part of the iPhone 4s.

Available in 21 languages, it is constantly improving – whether due to improvements made by Apple teams or according to machine learning, which makes the personal assistant smarter in practice, based on trial and error on orders placed by the user. Over the years, it has gained new commands, more integration with other apps and a contextual understanding that takes into account previous responses.

How to activate?

There are several ways to activate Siri and get the platform ready to receive a question or command. The most basic of them is from a physical action, pressing for a few seconds a button on the Apple mobile device. The button depends on the model and generation of the device: it is the “Home” on older devices, the top on the iPad Pro line and the side on the iPhone X onwards.

Another classic way that works on practically all platforms is from voice commands, starting with the greeting “Hey there, Siri”. You can first greet or amend it with a request, like “Hey, Siri, set an alarm for tomorrow at noon”.

Beginning with iOS 13, Apple added an app called Shortcuts. It brings a series of icons that allow the user to save and select applications and joint actions with context. A shortcut that you can call “Good night” may involve reducing the intensity of the lamps, setting the alarm clocks for the next day and silencing notifications until a certain time, for example.

From the watchOS 5 system, the smart watch also has an additional form of use: the “Raise to Speak”, in which it is enough to raise the arm where the watch is to a height close to the face and speak the desired command.

Finally, you don’t even have to use your voice: one of Apple’s Accessibility features involves enabling conversations with your assistant by text, typing in questions and tasks.

In touch with your apps

Along with Apple Music, Siri can find new music based on your taste, suggest albums and playlists for certain times of the day, play songs via voice commands and answer questions about artists.

The Shazam app, which identifies which music is playing on the device or in the environment, can be activated directly by a Siri command.

In addition, it is fully integrated with native system applications. This means that Siri is capable of doing advanced searches in photo files, in the browser and even in the Finder manager on macOS.

Integration with other devices

Normally, Siri is more associated with the iPhone, but it also operates normally on the iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, AirPods, Apple TV and HomePod.

Cars with the CarPlay system or the Siri Eyes Free app also have features that make it possible to use the personal assistant, especially requiring the use of hands.


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