Have an iPhone 4S with Siri? If so, here's how to use the voice-activated personal assistant to perform some simple work-related tasks:
Make a call or send a text. Hold the "Home" button down and you'll hear two quick beeps and the question: "What can I help you with?" appears on the phone's screen. Say what you need—"Call the office" or "Send a text to Joanne" –and the phone's microphone icon will light up. When you're finished talking, Siri displays the text of what you said and connects with the phone's built-in dialer or text-messaging service to complete the task.
Get directions. If you're in the United States, Siri gives directions in English for the iPhone's built-in maps and Yelp local search features. According to Apple Inc., native language support for maps and directions is available in France and Germany and is coming in 2012 in China, Japan, Korea, Italy and Spain.
Dictate a business letter or email. Avatron Software's Air Dictate app turns an iPhone 4S into a dictation machine. Download it on your phone and a companion receiver app on any Mac computer, make sure both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network and launch Microsoft Word or another text editor in your computer. On the phone, press the app's "Dictate" button and start talking–your words will appear on the computer screen. Air Dictate is 99 cents at the iTunes store.
Send yourself a reminder. Set up Remember the Milk, a free app for creating to-do lists and reminders, to work with Siri in just a couple of simple steps. Follow these instructions on the Remember the Milk website.
Search a database. Wolfram Alpha, the information technology company that publishes the Mathematica computations software and provides answers for some Siri queries, is developing a series of knowledge databases that can be accessed using Siri. In mid-January, Wolfram Alpha released a professional football statistics app developed with STATS, a sports information provider. That followed the company's December 2011 release of a voice-activated app for browsing the Best Buy product catalog. According to a Wolfram Alpha executive, voice-controlled databases for human resources, law firms and corporate finance are in the works.
Michelle V. Rafter is a Workforce Management contributing editor based in Portland, Oregon. To comment, email email@example.com.