Advertising
Advertising

Being Productive With Siri, Your New Personal Assistant

Being Productive With Siri, Your New Personal Assistant

    The other day we detailed some of our favorite iOS 5 tips and tricks. Today we are going to look at the awesome things that you can do with Siri on the iPhone 4S (or if you are a hacker type, on the iPhone 4, too).

    Siri is very much a beta product, but can give the user some handy ways to do things quickly while not interrupting their workflow. First we will outline some of the quick things that you can do with Siri to get things done.

    Sending messages and emails

      It’s super easy to send messages and emails with Siri. First, activate Siri and say “Send email to” or “Send message to Rutherford, I will be late for the party”. Siri will understand this natural type of language and will respond with something like,

      “Here is your messages to Rutherford. It says, “I will be late for the party”. Ready to send it?”

      From here you can do a number of things. You can respond by saying “modify it” or “change it” to wipe out the message portion and start over. You can say “no” or “cancel” to cancel the message entirely. Or you can simply reply “yes”, “send it”, or “confirm” to send the message.

        One of my favorite ways to send text messages with Siri is to say, “tell Amy that I will be home in about 15 minutes”. The fact that I can say “tell Amy” is so natural that it reduces the friction between me and my productivity tool allowing me to simply use it.

        Advertising

        Calling businesses and other things

        To call a business or place that isn’t in your address book simply say, “Call Big Daddy’s Steak House.” Siri will respond, “I don’t see Big Daddy’s steak house in your address book. Should I look for businesses by that name?”

        Respond “yes” or “no”. If Siri finds it she will ask you if she should call the business. Simply respond “yes” or “no”.

        You can also find businesses and places in different towns or cities (only in the US for now) by saying, “Call ‘some business name’ in Houston, Texas.”

        Calling a number is as simple as dialing it out loud. “Call 8675309.”

        Taking notes on the go

          I don’t use the stock Notes app on the iPhone much (read: not at all) as I am a plain text kind of guy, but with the addition of Siri to the iPhone 4S, the notes app may deserve another look.

          To make a note with Siri simply say, “Note, this is a really important note!” A note will be created with that said text. To create a note with a “title” say, “Create a ‘inbox items’ note”. Siri will know that this is the “inbox items” note and then you can use that name to add to it with “Add, think about what to buy mom for her birthday to my ‘inbox items’ note”.

          Siri will “tend to” add this to your note that has already been started. I’ve had trouble with this one but when it does work (I’d say 8 times out of 10) it is extremely useful.

          Setting appointments, timers, alarms and reminders

          If you have noticed yet, I love just how conversational Siri can be. With that, setting appointments, timers, alarms, and reminders is one of the easiest things you can do with Siri. In fact, you may not even need to know the exact “syntax” to these things as just saying something like, “set a timer for 4 minutes” will produce a running timer.

          Advertising

          Calendar appointments

          Say, “Set up an appointment (or meeting) at 6pm next Monday with my wife.” You can even say something like, “set up a meeting with Mike Vardy every Friday at 3:00am”. This will make a recurring appointment in your calendar as well as invite Mike Vardy (as long as he is in your address book) to the meeting when you confirm it.

          Timers and alarms

          I use these all the time at work because they are so easy to do. Say, “setup a timer for 25 minutes”. Done.

          For alarms say, “set an alarm for tomorrow at 4:45AM”. You can even say something like “set an alarm for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6AM”.

          Reminders

            We covered reminders in the last iOS 5 guide, and even though that Apple’s implementation of tasks is pretty great for a first stab, Reminders won’t be replacing my GTD system of choice any time soon. But, reminders gets much, much more useful now that I can create them with Siri.

            Setting up reminders for when I leave my house or when I arrive at work feels like I’m living in the 2000’s finally.

            To setup a reminder say something like, “set a reminder for when I leave home to remember to grag the TPS reports.” Or “set a reminder for 6PM tonight to stop and get my wife roses.”

            The “Hacks”

            OK, so all of the cool things you can do with Siri are awesome. But what about some things that aren’t supported out of the box? Take a look below for some of our favorites.

            Add a task to your favorite todo list app, notes app, etc.

              Adding tasks to services like Toodledo, RTM, or even OmniFocus requires a little setup, but is pretty easy to do. In fact, on the RTM blog they just posted a way to add tasks to the native Reminders app and have it sync with RTM. We are going to show you a more generic way to do this though that you can do with any service that allows email or text input.

              Advertising

              There are a bunch of web services that allow you to add items over email or even text message. Some of the ones that come to mind are Twitter, Toodledo, Evernote, OmniFocus, Remember the Milk, Springpad, etc.

              Let’s take Evernote for example:

              To send a note to Evernote from Siri setup a contact in your iPhone’s address book called Evernote. An even better thing to do is to setup two contacts. One with the First Name ‘Evernote’ and another with the first name ‘Ever’ and the last name ‘Note’. This will ensure that Siri won’t screw up recognizing when you say “Evernote”. Next, put your “send to Evernote” email into your Evernote’s contact info.

              After this activate Siri and say “Tell Evernote that I have to rethink the way that we are going to launch the site”. Siri will read it back to you and then you can confirm the send.

              This proves to be one of the most powerful things that I can get my iPhone 4S to do.

              Setting up Twitter

                It seems like a total misstep that Apple didn’t add Twitter support out of box. What’s even weirder is that Siri knows what Twitter is but just won’t help you out in Tweeting.

                Bad Siri.

                But there is a way to get around this. Make a contact called “Twitter” in your address book with the standard SMS number of ‘40404’. Also, you have to setup Tweeting by SMS on Twitter.com or over your phone by sending your password. After the initial setup, say, “tell Twitter that sending messages from Siri is awesome”. Siri should reply with her familiar “Here’s your message to Twitter. Ready to send it?”

                Advertising

                Set up adding to OmniFocus inbox with Siri

                  For you OmniFocus nerds out there, here is how you can send to your inbox with Siri (that is until the geniuses at The OmniGroup bring us something better). You need OmniFocus for your Mac with the Mail.app rules setup. Refer to this OmniGroup forum posting to set that up.

                  Next, set up an OmniFocus contact like I outlined above for Evernote. For your email address, use one that is set up in your Mail.app but instead of the regular email address, add ‘+omnifocus’ before the ‘@’ symbol. For example:

                  Your email is “my_email@example.com”. Use the email “my_email+omnifocus@example.com” for your OmniFocus contact info.

                  Now use Siri by saying “tell OminFocus that I need to grab some coffee when I go to the store”. The next time you sync with your OF database you should see your new inbox item.

                  Siri on productivity

                  Since we have only had a limited time with Siri, there will of course be more and more neat tricks uncovered as time goes on. But, I can already tell just how important this way of interacting with your iPhone will change productivity in the coming years.

                  I had a huge realization the other day when I had my earbuds in listening to music and programming. Something came to mind that was totally unrelated. I always have paper next to me to jot quick notes and reminders down and then come back to them to process. Instead, I long held my headset button and said, “tell OmniFocus ‘such and such that I needed to remember’”. Then I went back to listening to music and working. Later, when I was processing my inbox I realized that I captured something into my system with the least amount of resistance that I have ever experienced.

                  Now, I’m not saying that Siri is perfect. Not by any means. I’m also not saying that Apple has invented voice recognition and we should blindly follow and worship them. What I am saying is that Apple has provided consumers with the first accessible voice recognition and, dare I say, artificial intelligence that normal people can use. There can be a bit of a learning curve to get Siri to do exactly what you want it to do, but for the most part it is intuitive and extremely useful.

                  Good productivity tools are the ones that are useful and can stay out of your way. Siri accomplishes this task and I can’t wait to use it more and more in my everyday workflows.

                  More by this author

                  CM Smith

                  A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

                  Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Ways to Beat It Once and for All To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

                  Trending in Technology

                  1 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2019 2 7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Keep You on Track in 2019 3 How to Type Faster: 12 Typing Tips and Techniques 4 Best 5 Language Learning Apps to Easily Master a New Language 5 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

                  Read Next

                  Advertising
                  Advertising
                  Advertising

                  Last Updated on August 16, 2019

                  10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2019

                  10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2019

                  The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.

                  Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.

                  Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.

                  In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.

                  1. Cal Calendar

                    Cal Calendar has recently appeared on the market of mobile applications (Android, iOS). It is the brainchild of the development team of Any.do that features impressive functionality and well-thought-out design.

                    The application comes with many great features, including support for Exchange and Google Calendar, widgets, voice recording, and many more.

                    Cal Calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.

                    Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.

                    What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.

                    Cal Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.

                    Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.

                    Available for iOS and Android

                    2. Google Calendar

                      Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.

                      Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.

                      Advertising

                      Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.

                      The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?

                      Available for iOS and Android

                      3. Jorte Calendar

                        Jorte Calendar is one of the most popular calendar applications in the Google Play store.

                        The program features a wide range of configuration options, with many design alternatives. You can adjust display mode to your needs and view calendar entries sorted by month, week, or day (by hours). It is convenient for quickly picking the desired date, using task bars, and setting reminders.

                        Apart from its ordinary information storing function, this application can be a special cloud service, Jorte Cloud, allowing you to synchronize calendars, schedules, and task lists on multiple devices. The application also supports data importing from Google Calendar.

                        For those paying attention to the program design, there is also Jorte Store, where you can buy styles and icons to personalize the calendar. This feature makes Jorte is one of the brightest calendar applications.

                        A basic version of the app is free of charge, so if you do not want to spend money on a calendar application, it is a good option.

                        Available for iOS and Android

                        4. Business Calendar

                          Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.

                          The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).

                          You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.

                          The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.

                          Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.

                          Advertising

                          Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.

                          Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.

                          A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.

                          Available for Android

                          5. aCalendar

                            aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.

                            Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.

                            Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.

                            When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.

                            Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.

                            The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.

                            The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.

                            Available for Android

                            6. DigiCal Calendar

                              DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.

                              With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.

                              Advertising

                              Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.

                              The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.

                              Available for Android

                              7. SolCalendar

                                SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.

                                The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.

                                Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.

                                Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.

                                Available for Android

                                8. Calendar

                                  Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.

                                  A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.

                                  Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.

                                  Available for Desktop, iOS and Android

                                  9. Today Calendar

                                    Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.

                                    Advertising

                                    The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.

                                    If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.

                                    Available for Android

                                    10. Calendar Widget: Month

                                      Sometimes people do not need a heap of calendar applications. They would prefer to have one efficient calendar widget.

                                      Calendar Widget: Month perfectly fills this niche and meets all the needs of a modern user. It has some features of an ordinary calendar, but the real great thing about this software is that it has 80 or more themes in its library.

                                      The design of the application is great; the themes are perfectly tuned. There are options for almost any theme of your smartphone. The only drawback is the fact that the widget memory is not too large, and you should be ready for it.

                                      This simple calendar widget was created in the image and semblance of widgets from Yahoo. The widget window displays one calendar month with the ability to go to the previous and move to the next one.

                                      If you need a simple and affordable calendar to plan your tasks and affairs for one month, this widget is ideal for you. Calendar Widget: Month is so simple that it does not even have Google Calendar support.

                                      At the moment, it does not have the function of connecting any third-party calendars and services. Developers allow the possibility of introducing support for Google service as an addition to the widget, if users request to have this opportunity.

                                      Available for Android

                                      Our Verdict

                                      Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.

                                      Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.

                                      Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.

                                      The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!

                                      More Productivity Apps

                                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                      Read Next