"Hey Siri, who are you and what can you do?"
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You know Siri. She’s the voice of every iPhone, guiding users to their next destination and answering questions like, “Who’s singing this song?” and “What’s the weather like?”
Siri is the voice assistant of the Apple generation, and many contest she’s the best voice assistant around.
However, if you ask, “Hey, Siri, who are you?” you won’t get many details. She might tell you she doesn’t like talking about herself, but that’s about it. So we’re here to fill in the blanks.
Initially released in February of 2010 (and then acquired by Apple two months later), Siri didn’t make her first big splash until the iPhone 4S hit the market in October 2011. But splash, she did—for much of the general public, Siri was the first introduction to virtual assistant technology. Google Now, Cortana, and Alexa launched later, in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively.
In 2013, it was revealed that voice actor Susan Bennett unwittingly became the Siri we know and love today after a series of recording sessions in 2005. At the time, she had no idea those sessions would eventually result in one of the most recognizable voice assistants of our generation.
She spent four hours a day over the course of an entire month recording what she later said were nonsensical phrases meant to construct speech. Six years later, when a friend called and asked if Bennett’s was the voice now coming out of her iPhone, she had to laugh and admit that, yes, that was her.
Of course, that was before the release of iOS 7 introduced a new generation of voices to choose from, which means that your Siri could be the result of any number of different voice actors today.
But Bennett was the OG.
Like all voice assistants, Siri can help keep track of your schedule, look up the latest news, and find out pertinent details about local traffic and weather patterns that may help you plan for your day. Siri is also great at identifying that song playing on your radio, and integrating with your phone’s GPS to provide step-by-step directions wherever you need to go. And if you need a little hands-off assistance while driving, Siri is happy to call or text anyone in your contact list for you.
With your iOS device or HomePod (Apple’s smart home hub), Siri can also integrate with, and help control, Homekit-compatible smart home devices like thermostats, light switches, and smart locks. Just lead with, “Hey, Siri,” and tell your handy little voice assistant what you need it to do.
But take it from us on this one: While Siri is happy to help with basic math questions, you probably don’t want to ask what 0 divided by 0 is.
At least, not unless you want Siri to make you feel extra stupid.