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All you need to know about Siri for iPhone 4S (and iPhone 4?)

Siri was the standout feature when Apple announced the new iPhone 4S recently. But what have we learnt since then?

Acting like it had just fallen out of an episode of Star Trek, Siri offers us the chance to treat our phones like little electronic butlers. Now we’ve had a chance to try the technology out for real, we’ve had a little while now to enjoy it’s quirks and eccentricities. Apple doesn’t often release beta software to the public, but before it gets really smart and takes over the world, let’s round up a few interesting facts about Siri.

Siri runs on iPhone 4, sort of

As the original Siri app ran just fine on iPhone 4, many people were surprised to see Siri announced as an iPhone 4S exclusive. Apple has not made any statement whether Siri will ever make it to other devices. It’s been speculated that they want to limit it to iPhone 4S while it’s in beta, then roll it out to the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 once the bugs are ironed out.

Of course, not everyone is prepared to wait and see. Developer Steven Troughton-Smith and 9to5 Mac have managed to get Siri working on an iPhone 4. The big catch – Siri needs to talk to Apple’s servers to work, and those servers only accept calls from iPhone 4S. If the developers can’t find a way round that, iPhone 4 users are just going to have to hope Apple has a surprise in store for them with the next OS update.

Anarchy in the UK

Apple has been accused of being a bit US-focussed in the past, and this beta version of Siri is lacking some major features for the UK version – most notably directions and local directory searches – so no asking it directions to the nearest Nando’s just yet. I’d expect this to be fixed by the time Siri gets out of beta, but it’s quite a major limitation for now.

Also, did you know that un the UK, Siri is a rather posh sounding man? Apple has produced custom voices for each of the countries involved in the beta, and will presumably roll out more once it’s ready.

Siri is funny

The web is awash with examples of the funny answers Siri gives to some questions. Some are genuine mistakes, but others show that someone at Apple really wanted to give Siri a personality of it’s own. Siri knows the ultimate answer, and has multiple put-downs for for when you accidentally tell it you love it.

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite Siri comedy, and we’d love to hear your funny examples.

Keep Siri secure

Like Google’s text-to-speech services, Siri performs some of it’s magic by sending what you say off to it’s servers on the web to be translated into text. This is, for example, how you can use it to dictate text messages. Some of the security questions raised at launch were around whether Apple (or any company) should be trusted with this kind of data.

In real life, the first security issue identified in Siri was rather more mundane.

Train Siri with phonetic spellings

If Siri is having trouble figuring out some of the names you’re using, try filling out the phonetic spelling for your contacts. There are a few of these hidden options in the contacts app that have been around for a while, but are finding new usefulness thanks to Siri. Did you know, for example, that you can use your contact list to tell Siri who your spouse is, or your boss?

Siri isn’t new

Siri was originally a standalone artificial intelligence assistant app released for the iPhone 4. The company who built it, also called Siri, had planned to release versions for BlackBerry and Android phones. When the company was bought by Apple in April 2010, work on these alternative platforms stopped. The iOS app itself was pulled from the App Store before the big iPhone 4S announcement.