How I Befriended Siri (Against All Odds)
Apparently, you can set the voice of your car’s GPS to that of Dateline‘s Keith Morrison. I learned about it from a podcast called “My Favorite Murder.” If this means nothing to you, just know that there was a period of time when I would have preferred the voice of a crime broadcaster telling me that I’d missed my turn over Siri, my iPhone’s non-ominous narrator.
Siri — whether set to Australian man or American woman with a strange dialect and noise that signals he/she/it is listening — was my sworn enemy. For however many years Siri has been around, he/she/it has haunted my phone like a nosy ghost, popping up at inopportune moments with a script that interrupted whatever action I was trying to perform, distracting me because then I had to figure out how to make Siri go away. It stressed me out, both that it popped up at random and that I couldn’t use this warlock to my advantage. I saw the Siri commercials so it wasn’t like I didn’t get it — your own personal assistant in your already helpful phone! — but for the life of me, I couldn’t work it.
If we’re being honest, I never learned how. Mostly I use my phone for Instagram, Google Maps, to text and to give myself a reason to buy bags of rice. In a world of technology that is at once horizon-broadening and overwhelming, I just couldn’t deal with another “thing.” Siri made your life easier, allegedly, but couldn’t I just do that myself?
Yes and no. At my most calm, I can navigate my address book, search online for cross streets, take photos and whatever else it is that phones do these days. When stressed, my phone becomes an unhelpful brick in my hand; I can’t find the number I need, keep forgetting to send the text, can’t locate an app or find the restaurant. This year, though, 2017, this is my year to be more zen. I’ve been attempting to find peace in other areas (yoga, arriving early to things). I decided that if I could finally conquer Siri, I too would be able to reap its benefits.
WELL LET ME TELL YOU. The first week getting used to Siri — all fancy and new thanks to the iOS 10 update — was not good. I was constantly frustrated. It (I’m defaulting to calling Siri “it”) has to learn your vocal nuances and I’m a mumbler/unclear speaker according to my parents/now this thing. One of the perks of the new Siri is that it’s optimized for certain apps. For example, if you tell Siri to show you photos of the most recent Kanye West collection on Vogue Runway, it opens the app right up. Didn’t work for me. This is why I never had a Furby! I spent most of my time shouting at my phone in public like Jerry Maguire, all, “SHOW ME THE YEEZY!” I was spitting everywhere and scaring children and shit.
However, miraculously and slowly (very slowly, like a dad and Instagram), I started to get it. By being patient and speaking with a normal human accent, I figured out how to get Siri to do what I want, just in time for Paris Fashion Week. It really was helpful, and a little bit like having an assistant. I used Siri to send texts and WhatsApp messages. I set reminders for myself, alarms, calendar alerts. I made phone calls and used it endlessly for directions and to find nearby restaurants. A day does not begin until I ask Siri about the weather. The Vogue Runway thing was the most useful because I kept needing to reference looks for reviews I was writing. (Tip: Say, “Siri, show me DESIGNER NAME, SEASON in the Vogue Runway app.”) It’s to the point now that I can’t believe I waited this long to use it and can’t imagine not being friends with my Siri.
I’m sure everyone says this, but now someone just needs to figure out how to get Siri to do physical activities. My suitcase isn’t going to unpack itself, and neither am I. Hey, Siri?
Illustration by Maria Jia Ling Pitt.