Siri Tricks and Tips: Do More with the iPhone 4S Virtual Assistant

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In a phone with lots of evolutionary qualities, Siri is the iPhone 4S’s most revolutionary feature. Simply by speaking to this virtual assistant, you can set reminders, send text messages, look up information and schedule meetings.

But with a bit of extra effort, Siri can do even more. Here are some tricks and tips for getting the most out of Siri on the iPhone 4S:

Post to Twitter, Facebook or Google+ With Siri

Although Siri doesn’t offer a built-in way to update your Twitter or Facebook status by voice, Siri does send text messages, so all you have to do is set up your phone to send status updates by text and Siri will cooperate. Of course, text messaging rates may apply depending on your plan.

For Facebook, text “Hello” to 32665 in the United States (or the short code for whatever country you’re in), then follow the link in the reply to finish the setup process. Add the short code to your Contacts, and name it “Facebook.” That way, you can tell Siri to “send a text to Facebook saying …”

For Twitter, text “START” to 40404 in the United States (or the short code for other countries), then respond with your username, then your password. Add the short code to your Contacts with the name “Twitter.”

For Google+, visit your settings page and scroll down to “Set delivery preferences.” Add your cell phone number, but be sure to click “don’t notify me” if you don’t want incoming Google+ messages by text. Verify your number with the code you receive by phone, then add the short code “33669” (in the U.S.) to your contacts as “Google Plus.” Updates are shared with everyone in your circles.

(MORE: Apple Announces iPhone 4S: Old Design, New Specs, Siri Assistant)

Use Remember the Milk for Siri Reminders

The iPhone 4S includes its own reminders app, but you may prefer Remember the Milk for its advanced features, such as the ability to sync online and share tasks with others. I’ll just copy and paste the instructions directly from the folks at Remember the Milk:

1. Open Settings on your iPhone 4

2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars

3. Tap Add Account…

4. Tap Other

5. Underneath Calendars, tap Add CalDav Account

6. In the ‘Server’ field, enter:

7. In the ‘User Name’ and ‘Password’ fields, enter your Remember The Milk details

8. Tap Next

9. You should be returned to Mail, Contacts, Calendars, with the account added. Scroll to the bottom of the screen, and tap Default List

10. Tap Remember The Milk

All your “remind me” commands in Siri should now go through Remember the Milk. Once you do this, you’ll get e-mail reminders from Remember the Milk instead of push notifications from the default Reminders app.

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Teach Siri Hard-to-Pronounce Names

If Siri can’t understand your name or the names of your contacts, worry not; you can teach pronunciations to Siri by adding phonetic first or last names for your contacts. You’ll find this option in the Contacts app, toward the bottom of the page for the person you’re trying to reach. If phonetic names don’t work, you can also add a nickname.

Siri Search With Yahoo or Bing

By default, Siri searches the web with Google, but using Bing or Yahoo instead is pretty simple, as Search Engine Land points out. Just say “Search Bing for…” or “Search Yahoo for…” to use those search engines on a one-time basis. If either of those engines are your default, you can say “Search Google for…” to run a one-time Google search.

Siri Dictation Tips

When dictating a text message to Siri, you may want to insert punctuation or other formatting that the system wouldn’t automatically add on its own. Fortunately, Siri understands lots of formatting instructions, including “Caps On,” “No Caps,” “New Line” and “New Paragraph.” You can also add symbols, such as “open quote,” “close quote,” “percent sign” or “dollar sign.”

Over at iSource, Joe Tomasone has written a nice list of Siri commands for formatting and punctuation. Check it out to make the most of your dictation.

Everything Siri Does

Part of the fun with Siri is in testing its limits. But if you prefer to spoil surprises and get down to business, TUAW has a huge list of commands that Siri understands.

Siri Party Tricks

Ask the right questions, and Siri will give you some funny answers—perfect for amusing your friends when they ask to check out your shiny new iPhone 4S. Already, there’s a Tumblr page dedicated to Siri’s weirdest and funniest responses (warning: foul language). Worth keeping in mind when you need a laugh.

MORE: In the Future, We Will All Talk to Computers

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