If you've got yourself an iPhone, then you're probably already acquainted with Siri, Apple's useful, and occasionally cheeky, digital assistant. For those that are into voice control, Siri can be very convenient. For a long time though, Siri was only any good if you were using Apple's proprietary apps. However, with iOS 10, that's changed, and you can now use Siri with any app that supports her. Interested? Then read on to find out how all this works…
What's the Deal?
Okay, let's start with the basics. One of the most useful things that Siri can do is allow your phone to be voice controlled. That's pretty cool when your phone's sitting on your bedside table and you want to know what time it is. However, it could also be a life saver if you happen to be, say, driving a car, and need to know what that new text says. Being able to use your phone hands free is both convenient and at times a requirement, and as of the latest iOS release, Siri just got even better.
In older versions you could use Siri properly only with stock Apple apps. There was a small exception in that you could launch third party apps with Siri, but once launched you couldn't do anything further. So you could open your taxi app, for example, but you couldn't get Siri to order you a cab. But in the new iOS 10 Apple have opened up Sirikit which allows any developer that chooses to to incorporate Siri into their app.
Which Apps Does it Work With?
That's not to say that Siri works with all apps. She doesn't. This is purely the choice of the developer. And since this is a fairly new option, it hasn't been very widely used as of yet, though you can expect that to change in the near future. We'll discuss below how you know which of your apps support Siri and which don't, but what if you're on the look out for new apps?
Big name apps like Lyft and Uber both support Siri, as does Confide and Runtastic. However, it can be tough to find out exactly which apps will and will not support Siri. Right now the easiest way to do this is to head to Apple's App Store and find the category called “We love iOS 10 for apps.” Click on this and you should see a sub-category called “hey Siri,” which lists only apps that support the digital assistant. Again, this is a pretty new possibility, so it's likely to get far easier to find Siri supported apps in the future.
How to Enable Siri for 3rd Party Apps
Enabling Siri in 3rd party apps is a simple, two step process, and you don't need a tech degree to do this, we swear…
Step one is to ensure that Siri is actually activated. And even if you think she is, it's best to check anyway. Go into your settings app, and scroll down until you find “Siri” and click on it. Make sure that the top option (which simply says “Siri” again) is toggled on. Now she's activated. But not so fast. It's also recommended that you toggle on the option for “allow Hey Siri” which will let you access Siri even when the lock screen is on as long as you're plugged into a charger. There's a third option, “Access on Lock Screen” and this one is up to you. If you toggle this on then anyone can access Siri even when your phone is locked. That might be convenient for you, but it could also be a security risk should you often leave your phone unattended…
On to step two. Now even though Siri is activated, she doesn't have access to all your apps. You need to give permission for her to use apps on a one by one basis. This is smart, since it stops you accidentally accessing apps that you might not want to, simply by having a conversation next to your phone. Go back to the settings menu, choose “Siri” again, then scroll all the way to the bottom and opt for “App Support.”
You should then get a list of all the apps you have that support Siri, and all you need to do is to switch the toggle to “on” for each individual app. There, now, wasn't that simple?
Okay, What Now?
Now it's time to test that your voice control system works. And this is the kind of tricky part. Whilst there are simple formulas for controlling Apple's stock apps, the phrases you need for 3rd party apps kind of vary by app. You can experiment a little if you like, and if you're already pretty familiar with Siri and how she works, you'll probably figure out individual app instructions pretty fast. Alternatively, check the app developer's home page or blog, or the app description in the App Store, for specific instructions. This isn't as tough as it sounds, though there's a small learning curve involved. Most app developers use fairly logical phrases to enable Siri to use their apps, all you have to do is remember them!
What's the Result?
And that's really all you need to know. You should now be able to voice control Siri into ordering your Uber car, maybe sending you a pizza, getting emails and messages to friends, controlling your music, and all kinds of other fun stuff. For frequent drivers this is a real boon, but even the slightly lazy will appreciate not needing to click and scroll around in apps to get what they need. So get started now!