The other day I was speaking to someone who had just gotten a new iPhone 4S. They love the phone but were complaining that Siri doesn’t seem to work very well. We spent a few minutes going over some of the Siri ins and outs and, would you believe, he now loves Siri. Because of that, I thought I would circle back and share a few more tips that can make Siri a more effective productivity tool.
Talk to Me: As is the case with all voice recognition, you need to speak in a particular manner if you want Siri to transcribe text accurately. In fact, if others hear me talking to Siri they give me a funny look. I deserve it since I sound like a robot but it pays off in excellent transcription quality.
It is absolutely worth the investment of time to try a few different ways of speaking to Siri to find the one which works best with your voice. It may mean you need to go a particular speed, it may mean you need to leave a certain amount of space between each word, or it may simply be the fact that you need to speak at a certain volume. Small things make a big difference when it comes to the accuracy of voice transcription and this is especially true with Siri.
My suggestion is simple. Take a piece of text, open the iOS Notes app and “type it” using the iPhone 4S’ voice recognition. Do this a few times and change your speed, intonation etc each time. Then see which piece of text is most accurate.
Punctuation Matters: Punctuation is actually quite simple and accurate with Siri so long as you do it the proper way. When you want to add punctuation, you need to pause before you state the character you want to insert, state it “period, comma, semi-colon etc) and then briefly wait a second time before continuing to dictate. Speaking this way is a bit awkward at first but it works almost perfectly once you get the hang of it.
Headsets Matter: I found that using the right corded or Bluetooth headset can help tremendously when using Siri in an environment with even a small amount background noise. So far the headset that works best for me with Siri is the Plantronics Voyager Pro HD. I’m not sure why this is the case but it is. In addition, when using a Bluetooth headset I find that there is an initial beep when the headset connects but then I need to wait for the “Siri noise” that indicates Siri is actually listening to me. Patience is a virtue here since, speaking too soon, will yield incomplete text.
Other tips that I have already covered include the importance of cleaning up your contacts (you can find that post here), using the right application so that you can Siri dictate to your iPhone and then finish editing on a different, larger device (you can find that post here) and, of course, making sure that your contact information includes all of your specific data as well as key relationships to people you contact frequently. This will speed up the process of using Siri significantly by allowing you to refer to the relationship and not the person.
Apple is calling Siri a beta and, to a certain degree, that’s true. After all, the system did go down for hours the other day. But with a little bit of practice and a small time investment, I suspect you will quickly find that, Beta or not, Siri is nothing short of invaluable.