We’ve all spent a day or two with our iPhone 4S handsets, and we’ve been merrily chatting away with Siri, our new best friend. During those chats we’ve discovered one or two useful little tips that you may not be aware of that can make everyone’s use or Siri a little more fun.

Siri, for those who’ve been hiding in a cupboard or shipwrecked on a desert island, is Apple’s latest innovation to come to the iPhone. The idea is to give users their very own digital assistant, which really boils down to voice-activated commands. It is, of course, a little more interesting than that, and the way users can talk to their iPhones in real-world language is, at times, a sight to behold.

Let’s get onto the tips…

Changing Siri’s Definitions

While the whole point of Siri is being able to tell it what you want to do using the power of your voice, it doesn’t always get it 100% right. We’ve noticed a couple of occasions when the system has recognized what we’ve said for the most part, but got a couple of words wrong.

Rather than starting all over again, we noticed that you can actually tap on what Siri thinks you said, and then edit it. Once edited, you can then resubmit it.

We’re not sure if that will help Siri to learn in the long-term, but we sure hope it does.

Change What Siri Calls You

You may have noticed that sometimes Siri refers to you by name during some of your conversations. If, like me, you prefer to be called something other than your full first name, you can actually tell Siri to do just that.

Simple activate Siri and say “Siri, call me x,” where x is obviously your new chosen name.

Siri will then confirm, and you’re done.

Tell Siri About Your Family

If you spent all your pre-iPhone 4S time watching Apple’s Siri demo videos, the chances are you noticed various overly-attractive actors asking Siri to call or message people using names like ‘Mom’ or ‘my wife’ instead of actual names.

There are two ways this can be achieved. My personal favorite is to just tell Siri what your relationships are to people in your contacts list.

For example: “Siri, my wife is x” will result in the software asking for confirmation that your wife is indeed this ‘x’ person we keep talking about.

This works for other relations, too. Fathers, mothers, uncles, in-laws — pretty much anyone.

You can also do this the manual way. Fire up Contacts, find your own entry and tap edit. Now, you can add a new field and then choose “related people.” You’ll be presented with a long list of possible relationships. Tap the one you want, link it to the person’s contact and you’re golden.

There is, however, a caveat to this.

If you’re using iCloud as your contact syncing service of choice, you’re fine, no problems at all. If you’re using Google as the center of your universe though, it’s a whole different kettle of fish.

See, Google’s contacts system only has three options for your related people – spouse (this will work for wife and husband just fine,) manager, and assistant. That’s it.

This means that you can’t set your parents, kids or other relatives in either of the ways outlined above. Siri will try to do it if you let it, but you’ll end up with an assistant or manager that you didn’t know you had!

There is a way around this if my own experiences can be replicated. To get the same functionality as iCloud users, I’ve given my relatives nicknames of mum, dad and so on. Siri seems to search nicknames when looking for contacts just the same as it does related people, so this works surprisingly well. Give it a try and let me know if that throws up any issues for you, or indeed if you have a better workaround yourself!

Hopefully these tips will prove useful, and do let us know in the comments if you’ve got anything else to share. It’s the early days of Siri, and we’re all learning together!

  • Alex

    The daddy? Haha, nice! 🙂

  • Gus

    I sat with Siri last night and told her all my relatives. It was pretty cool. I didn’t know about the name change, just changed it now. I’m sure the wife will not be amused? lol

  • johnny

    “Tell Siri About Your Family” this is so funny :)) ..to tell your iphone about your family :))

  • Probably the coolest feature of the Siri. Apple has done a great job for not only making Siri work good but also smart and humurous

  • sheryl

    wait… if your hands are available to edit the thing you said, did you really need to be using siri anyway?

    • Kuipo77

      Sherlyn, this is a one time only it seems like. Next time Siri will remember what you tried to say

  • Jex


  • Wayne

    Call me Daddyo.

  • @djksmitty

    apple should somehow merge or incorporate slang like use definitions from urban dictionary imo

  • Siri is rude to me lol

  • Looks to me like Google has 14+ preset relationships: Spouse, Child, Mother, Father, Parent, Brother, Sister, Friend, Relative, Manager, Assistant, Referred by, Partner, Domestic Partner and then you can add additional custom relationships.

    Anyone had any experience with how this integrates with Siri and iPhone sync? I like relying on Google to sync everything (gmail, contacts, calendars), but I’m tempted to move over to iCloud for contacts if that’s what it takes to get a smarter Siri/iPhone.

    • UPDATE: I ran a test by adding lots of relationships to a contact in Gmail. When I synced with iOS 5 the data was simplified to “assistant, manager, spouse”.

      When I go to add relationships to contacts in iOS 5 the only options provided are the 3, “assistant, manager, spouse”.

      CONCLUSION: I’m going to switch over to using Google Sync just for email and calendar. iCloud’ll be what I use for contacts.

      I’m curious about whether or not I’ll be to keep Address Book syncing with Google or if that’ll just set me back to the same limitation.

      • Brandon

        Simon, I’m torn between iCloud and Google myself. I have decided to use iCloud. If you find a creative way to enter the contacts please share. So far I have started manually adding them by opening Google contacts on my 4s and iCloud on my Mac and typing them in one by one. I have searched everywhere and haven’t found an “easy way.”

      • Brandon, pulling contacts over from Gmail into iCloud was easy. I had OS Lion syncing address book with google (a much improved Lion feature), all I needed to do was change the Lion setting to sync address book with iCloud. Wallah, all of my contacts showed up on iCloud.

        Of course you could also export contacts from gmail and then import to address book and then turn on iCloud syncing… Manually entering sounds rough!

    • I think you’re actually setting *their* relationships, rather than saying how they are related to you. It actually seems kinda useless – just text – doesn’t even link to people. You’d think that could be integrated with Google+.

    • Jared

      The omly drawback to this is if you use different devices all the time which I do. Part of the job I have. It would be nice someday to have iCloud or some other third party Cloud service that would sync all things with all options to the cloud for all devices, seems simple enough. But it’s not I guess. I love my iPhone. But when I switch I have to export my updated contact list to google then download to the new device which is usually an android something of the day/hour.

  • Oliverf

    Siri calls me ‘Oh wise and powerful master’

    • Ershad


    • +2

    • Jase

      I decided to go with “Your Awesomeness”

  • I love reading this with reader from my iOS device

  • Jason Masters

    Ask Siri who Steve jobs is its quite awesome !

  • Brandon

    Hahaha! If your like me you will get the “you need help look”.

  • haha i like daddy;)

    cant wait until 28 oktober when iphone 4s comes to denmark

  • Mike B

    When I ask Siri to text, call etc. someone from my contact list, it always asks me which contact I want to use i.e.:
    Smith, John or
    John Smith?

    I don’t have any duplicate contacts. Anyone know how to fix this?

  • Gump

    Has anyone used funambol. It’s great but not to sure how it fits into this thread.

  • fdxgncgfn

    Who knows? Maybe Siri tricks you into giving it your information and then sends it to BI or something. You never know. JK:)

  • Brandon

    @Mike B + Simon. Guys I promise this has been a very aggravating experience. I am running Lion freshly updated. It was already setup to sync with Google. During the initial setup (Lion /i OS5) I chose everything to Sync with iCloud. It only moved 30 contacts to iCloud. At one time I had 4ea of contacts in my Mac address book trying to get this fixed. I stayed up until 3am and I have it fixed (almost) You guys may think to yourself “this guy is insane” but here is what I did.
    1. So I took my iPhone 4 and opened Exchange Contacts.
    2. Opened iCloud contacts on my 4s. (if you have Google Exchange group open it adds them to Google)
    3. Opened iCloud web on my Mac. (so I could watch items being added)
    4. I manually added every contact from the iPhone 4 Exchange group into the iCloud group on the 4s and watched them being added on the Mac.
    5. Went into Mail, Contacts, Calenders, on the 4s and turned Google Contacts Off. It forces you to delete what’s on the phone. And I did.
    6. In Mac address book, I selected all and deleted every contact.
    7. Went to iCloud contacts on my Mac THEY WERE GONE! (to add a contact..message)
    8. 4s Gone!
    9. iPhone 4 Gone!
    10. I went back though the devices in a frantic search. Clicked undo on Mac address book and the Mac contacts came back.
    11. All of the updated contacts I added to iCloud magically appeared on all of my devices although there are still 3ea on the Mac address book.

    So now on my iPhone 4s I have all of my contacts with relationships and Birthdays set exactly like I want them in iCloud. The All on my Mac, All on this phone, and Exchange Groups are gone. I have one and it’s iCloud.

    Mike B.- when I create a new E-Mail and touch “T” the first letter of my Brothers name, it is still showing an old E-Mail address of his that is “not” anywhere to be found in my iPhone contacts……but it is still on the Mac.

    Hope I didn’t confuse anyone but when iOS 5 and Lion update was released I figured I could choose Exchange and it would set my iPhone and Mac Address Book to sync those contacts.
    For now, I’m going to let it be. What do you guys think 🙂

  • Steve

    thanks for the post… I have been hoping I could change what “Siri” calls me

  • Jason

    I asked Siri to marry me. She said, let’s just be friends, ok?

  • ally

    Siri is using my son’s name while referring to me. She is picking it up from somewhere, just don’t know where. i have asked her to use my name and she has registered it but she has gone ahead and changed the name of my son in my contacts to my name now.

    • javier

      go to settings:
      contacts > My Info [What’s the name display? Is your son’s name?]
      >all contacts [Select your name.]

      Is possible that the reason that Siri use your son’s name is that are not in the contacts list.
      You need go to phone:
      >tap upper right pluss symbol [+]
      [new contact: yourself]

  • javier

    I said to Siri “I love you Siri.” And reply: “Oh, I bet you say that to all your Apple products.”

  • Hi!
    I just got my new iPhone 4S after Christmas. It’s the first time I’ve had an iPhone, and to say the least, unfortunately, I’m somewhat disappointed. (I’ve had 4 generations of Windows Mobile phones prior to this new one – there are several things Win phones do much better). I just discovered the Siri can only recognize people in the contacts list. I told Siri “Call United Airlines”, which is an entry in my contacts, and Siri simply couldn’t do it. I have many companies without first/last name in my contacts, and it would be nice if Siri could find them.
    I hope you’ve found a way to fix this. Thanks!

    • Alicia Baird

      For some reason Siri does not look for names listed under the business category. If you move the name of the company to the first name category, Siri will then identify and call it.

  • I asked Siri to remeber x is my wife and she confirmed having added x as my wife to my info. Siri calls my wife when I ask her to call my spouse but the moment i tell her to call my wife, she says sorry there is no wife number for me. But get this, when I turn siri off and then turn her back on n I ask her to call my wife she does it immediately. Then I close siri n try it again, guess what? I get the same message sorry, there is no wife number for me!!!! Have tried it a thousand times……Have restoerd the iphone 3 times since yesterday…..NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK….kindly help…..ANYONE??????

    • Pedro

      You have a bad case of a jealous Siri. Have you tried transgendering Siri to a male?