If you upgrade your iPhone this week, you're probably already familiar with Siri, Apple's new voice-controlled "personal assistant." Siri can send messages, schedule appointments, and set reminders for you, all using everyday, natural language, but here are a few smart tricks that can help you make the most of your new robotic butler.
Change Siri's voice. You can fiddle with Siri's voice and accent in the system settings, turning her into a British charmer à la Hugh Grant or giving her an Australian accent so you can feel like you're Down Under. To set the voice, go to Settings > General > Siri and select the voice -- or language -- of your choice. Siri supports French and German right now, so you can have it whisper the language of love into your ear and brush up on your high school Gallic.
Create location reminders. Want to make sure you don't forget your keys? Siri can create location reminders, popping up when you leave the house or your current location. All you have to say is, "Remind me to bring my keys when I leave the house," and Siri will alert you when you're a few feet away from home. Want to pick up the dry cleaning on the way? Ask her to remind you to pop by when you leave the office or get near the mall.
Find cooking conversions with your hands full. I love using Epicurious to cook in the kitchen, but sometimes my measurements are a bit off. To grab conversions on the fly, simply hold down your home button (with the hand not covered in frosting) and ask Siri for help. You can even request recipes. Simply say something like, "Find me a recipe for tuna salad" and she (or he) will drop you into Safari with the Google search already done for you.
Discover cool stuff near you. People have asked Siri to find all sorts of things near them, including "places to hide the body" and "escorts." Siri is up for tracking down almost anything you ask of her -- including nearby McDonald's and Toys 'R' Us stores, as well as general things like bowling alleys and plumbing supplies. Try her. You'll be surprised.
Find out important stuff on the fly. Is there a name or title on the tip of your tongue? Just ask Siri. She knows book titles, names of famous people, and she can even find out public figures' birthdays and answers to the question "Is X dead?" If her voice weren't so loud, she'd be great for pub trivia.
Bonus: Watch your weight. Siri can't motivate you like a trainer can, but she can let you know how many calories are in that bagel or, in my case, that next highball. Siri can find the calorie counts of popular foods and drinks and even give you calories per ounce so you can measure things with a bit more care.
Will you use the new iPhone to manage your life?