How To: Your iPhone Has New Siri Skills You've Gotta Try Out — Here Are the 13 Best Ones

Your iPhone Has New Siri Skills You've Gotta Try Out — Here Are the 13 Best Ones

It's easy to miss the updates Siri got with iOS 16, especially if you're not an avid Siri user. Even if you use Apple's virtual assistant daily, you may be surprised by all the great new things it can help you do now.

Siri was designed to allow you to communicate with your iPhone and other devices that support it as effortlessly as possible. This often means interacting with your iPhone hands-free using Hey Siri, but that's not all that Siri offers. The virtual assistant becomes more intelligent with every new iteration, providing you with numerous tools for navigating your iPhone and getting the maximum out of it.

Keep reading to see all the new things you can do with Siri on iOS 16.0 and later.

1. Run Ready-to-Use Shortcuts

On iOS 16, Siri can run premade shortcuts from your installed apps without additional setup. This is possible because of the new App Intents API, which lets developers create built-in, ready-to-use shortcuts for their apps. Instead of building your own shortcuts for common tasks in the Shortcuts app, they're simply ready for you to use.

Not all apps include ready-to-use shortcuts, but you can see a list of them all in the App Shortcuts section in the Shortcuts app. To use them, summon Siri, then speak the title of the app shortcut. Some shortcuts may support synonyms, so you might not have to use the exact phrase to run the command. You can also run them from Shortcuts or Spotlight.

2. Find Out What You Can Do

Siri can be very helpful, but users often don't know all the ways they can use it. On iOS 16, if you initiate Siri from the Side or Home button, Hey Siri, or Type to Siri, "What can I do here?" will help you find out what's possible.

When you're in an app that supports App Shortcuts (see above), it will list the premade shortcuts available, but you can also ask something like, "What can I do with [App Name]." If there are few or no supported Siri actions for a specific app, Siri will suggest other things you can use Siri for, like turning on the flashlight.

Siri help is available for iPhones with an A12 Bionic chip or later. It works in several languages, including Cantonese (Hong Kong), English (Australia, Canada, India, U.K., U.S.), French (France), German (Germany), Japanese (Japan), Mandarin Chinese (China mainland), and Spanish (Mexico, Spain, U.S.).

3. Convert Text to Emoji

You can now use Siri to insert emoji characters into messages and notes by saying the emoji's name followed by the word "emoji." For example, you can say "smiley face emoji," "cat emoji," and "heart emoji" in a row, and Siri will convert each into its associated emoji. Before iOS 16, Siri would spell out the words instead.

This works for any Apple or third-party app that lets Siri add or post text, such as Mail, Messages, Notes, Reminders, and WhatsApp. You can also add emoji using the Dictation tool in apps.

Text-to-emoji with Siri is available for iPhones with an A12 Bionic chip or later. It works in several languages, including Cantonese (Hong Kong), English (Australia, Canada, India, U.K., U.S.), French (France), German (Germany), Japanese (Japan), Mandarin Chinese (China mainland, Taiwan), and Spanish (Mexico, Spain, U.S.).

4. Hang Up Calls

You may not always be able to press a button on your iPhone to end a call in the FaceTime or Phone apps, and Siri can help you in those scenarios now. Just say, "Hey Siri, hang up" when you want to end a conversation, and Siri will disconnect the call. The other people on the call will hear you say it, but it's definitely worth it whenever you need to end a call hands-free.

It's not enabled by default, so you'll need to go to Settings –> Siri & Search –> Call Hang Up, and toggle on its switch. You can also do so from Settings –> Accessibility –> Siri –> Call Hang Up.

Hanging up calls using Siri works on iPhone models with an A13 Bionic chip or later, meaning the iPhone 11 and newer. However, it also works on the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR (A12 Bionic devices) when using AirPods or Siri-enabled Beats headphones. It works in several languages, including Cantonese (Hong Kong), English (Australia, Canada, India, U.K., U.S.), French (France), German (Germany), Japanese (Japan), Mandarin Chinese (China mainland), and Spanish (Mexico, Spain, U.S.).

5. Adjust Siri's Pause Time

Head to Settings –> Accessibility –> Siri, and you'll find a section where you can adjust the length of Siri's pause time, i.e., the amount of time between the moment you finish speaking and when Siri answers. If Siri is constantly responding to you before you ask it your whole question or command, change the length from Default to either Longer or Longest to make sure it captures your complete request.

6. Announce Notifications on Speaker

We could already make Siri announce time-sensitive alerts, direct messages, or all notifications from apps over CarPlay, AirPods, and some Beats headphones. But iOS 16 has an option to "Announce Notifications on Speaker" via Settings –> Accessibility –> Siri. Switching the toggle on unhides an "Announce Notifications" submenu, a shortcut to the same options available at Settings –> Siri & Search –> Announce Notifications.

As before, Siri will avoid interrupting you and will listen after it reads the notifications to see if you want to respond without you having to invoke "Hey Siri." You'll notice it most on your Lock Screen or when you're not using your iPhone, as long as your iPhone isn't set to Silent Mode.

7. Announce Notifications on Hearing Devices

If you use a Made for iPhone hearing device, you can finally make Siri announce notifications when you're wearing it. The setting should be available via Settings –> Siri & Search –> Announce Notifications. If you don't see it, you don't have any MFi hearing aids or implants set up on your iPhone.

8. Enable/Disable Auto-Answer Calls

Before, you'd have to go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Touch –> Call Audio Routing –> Auto-Answer Calls to enable or disable the setting that makes Siri answer calls for you in FaceTime and Phone. On iOS 16, you can ask Siri to "turn on/off auto-answer," saving you significant time. Still, you'll have to go to the Auto-Answer Calls preferences to adjust the wait time before Siri picks up.

9. Enable Automatic Message Sending

It's not new that you can use Siri to compose and send a message, but it always requires you to manually confirm that you want to send it. However, iOS 16 lets you bypass the manual confirmation via Settings –> Siri & Search –> Automatically Send Messages, and you can control if it works over CarPlay, headphones, or hearing devices. Once enabled, Siri will send the message automatically after four or five seconds unless you cancel it.

10. Shazammed Songs Finally Sync

You could already ask Hey Siri to identify a song playing using Shazam, but the results would not sync with the Shazam app and Control Center's Music Recognition control. On iOS 16, everything finally syncs up, so you'll never have a problem finding a track you Shazammed.

11. More Offline Functionality

On iOS 16, Siri can process even more requests when your iPhone is offline. This includes interactions with smart home controls (HomeKit devices), notifications, voicemails, and intercom requests.

Epanded offline support works on iPhones with an A12 Bionic chip or later. It works in several languages, including Cantonese (Hong Kong), English (Australia, Canada, India, U.K., U.S.), French (France), German (Germany), Japanese (Japan), Mandarin Chinese (China mainland), and Spanish (Mexico, Spain, U.S.).

12. More Accurate App Clip Suggestions

App Clips may appear in the Siri Suggestions widget (and Spotlight) whenever your iPhone thinks you may need them, but iOS 16 adds precise location suggestions that make it even more likely you'll see the right App Clip at the right time. For example, the Siri Suggestions widget might show you a restaurant's App Clip to pay for your meal when dining out. (App Clips are parts of an app that work on the spot without installing the entire app.)

13. Prefer Silent Responses

Siri's voice feedback settings were pretty confusing on iOS 16.1 and earlier, but iOS 16.2 clears things up a bit, by adding a new "Prefer Silent Responses" option. In earlier iOS 16 versions, there were only choices for "Automatic" and "Prefer Spoken Responses."

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Cover photo and screenshots by Jovana Naumovski/Gadget Hacks

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