Don't hire a personal assistant – use Siri instead. The voice-activated virtual assistant, which is built into Apple's iPhone, can help almost any business user achieve a smoother, more productive workday.
The advantage of Siri is that it enables you to perform all sorts of actions, hands-free. For example, you can place a phone call, compose and send an email, or find directions just by speaking your directions aloud. It also provides an easier way to perform daily actions such as viewing the forecast, checking the stock market or finding a good place to eat. It even lets you manipulate apps on your phone – such as the alarm clock or calendar – using only your voice.
Launching Siri is easy: just hold down the Home button for several seconds until you see a microphone icon appear on your iPhone’s display. After Siri launches, speak your command. Read on for six ways Siri can improve your workday.
Your iPhone is better than any paper calendar at helping you manage your schedule. That's because once an item is added to your digital calendar, your phone will automatically alert you when the date approaches. Unfortunately, hammering in the details of an appointment using the tiny keyboard on your iPhone's screen isn't easy. Siri provides a good alternative: just launch the app and issue a voice command such as, "Schedule a meeting with Susan tomorrow morning at 10 p.m." You can view all the meetings you've scheduled using Siri by opening the Calendar app. Siri can even reschedule your meeting if plans change; just say, "Move my 10 p.m. meeting" and then let Siri guide you through the process of rescheduling the event.
Siri can't replace your stock broker, but she can help you check on the current status of stocks and exchanges. With one quick voice command, she can tell you if APPL is up or down, for example. Siri can provide opening, high and low quotes, as well as price-to-earning ratios, market caps and yields. You don't have to know the stock symbol of the company you want to check on, either. Just launch Siri and ask a question such as "How is Apple's stock doing today?" or "What is Google's market cap?" Siri can speak the answer back to you, and display a detailed graph showing the stock’s current performance. You can also ask about exchanges. For example, say, "How did NASDAQ close today?"
Severe weather can bring your business plans to a screeching halt. An unexpected storm can extend travel times, slow sales or cause flights to be delayed. That's where Siri comes in. It can help you stay on top of the weather so you can plan ahead. Just launch Siri and ask a question such as "What’s the weather today?" Siri can speak the answer back to you, and display a detailed forecast, including the daily high and low, as well as the chance of precipitation. You can also ask Siri about the forecast for the week ahead, or simply ask about the weather on a specific day by asking a question like "What’s the forecast for Monday?" Siri can even tell you the approximate time of sunrise and sunset for the current day.
Have a package to mail, but don't have time to run to the post office in the middle of your workday? Just ask Siri to remind you to stop in next time you're in the neighborhood. The service uses your phone's built-in GPS sensor to alert you next time you're near the desired destination. To set a location-based reminder, launch Siri and issue a voice command such as "Remind me to check my email when I get home." Once the reminder is set, your iPhone will automatically alert you to the task when you get home. It's also possible to set a location-based reminder manually using the Reminders app, but using Siri makes the process quicker and easier.
When you have a meeting or an appointment to get to, you don't have time to mess with maps. Instead, use Siri to access turn-by-turn directions to your desired destination in a hurry. Just launch Siri and issue a voice command like "Navigate to the airport." Siri can automatically launch the navigation app to guide you there. And because Siri operates using voice commands, it's the safest way to get alternative direction when you're already driving and run into unexpected traffic delays. It's better to avoid fiddling with your phone while driving, but Siri offers a relatively safe alternative in case of an emergency.
Ask a question
Have a question? Instead of Googling it, just ask Siri. It can search the Web to find the answer to most questions, and speak the answer back to you. For example, you could launch Siri and ask, "How many feet are in a yard?" You can also use Siri to perform quick calculations such as "What’s eight times 14?" Sure, the Calculator app on your iPhone provides similar functionality, and you can search the Web manually to find an answer to most questions. The benefit of Siri is that it lets you complete those actions more quickly and easily. That way you can spend less time tapping the screen of your smartphone and more time working.