Tag Archives: Siri

Make the Most of iOS 14.5

By Tracey Dowdy 

Monday, Apple released iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 worldwide. If you’re using a supported device, you can find the software update in your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch’s Settings app. The most significant change for many is App Tracking Transparency, Apple’s new policy whereby app developers are required to get user opt-in to track users between apps. Arguably, the best feature is one we could have used a year ago – the ability to unlock your phone without removing your mask. The downside? You need an Apple Watch for the feature to work. 

The App Tracking Transparency feature and policy are now fully enforced, starting with today’s release of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14. Apps must ask for permission to track you across your Apple devices. If you decline the request or block apps from asking you, they have to honor your decision. Should an app get caught tracking you without your consent, Apple reserves the right to remove it from the App Store. Go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking on your iPhone or iPad to enable. 

Face ID now works with a mask, well, sort of. If you have an Apple Watch, you’re all set. If you don’t, we can only hope developers will introduce a way to unlock in the next update. In the meantime, with iOS 14.5, your iPhone will look for your paired Apple Watch to unlock itself if it sees the bottom half of your face is covered. If your watch is nearby, your iPhone will open just as it usually would when using Face ID. 

Siri has added new voices, so the default voice is no longer female. There are now four voices English speakers get to choose from, including two new voices modeled after Black American English. You’ll find these on the Siri page for voices within the Settings app. Choose “American” under variety and, in addition to the two existing American accents, you’ll find two more voices: a Black female voice and a Black male voice.

Apple has also added features to its Shortcuts app. One of the more labor-intensive yet popular additions is the ability to create your own app icons and customize the look of your phone. For example, instead of the Apple Mail app icon, you can download an icon and replace it with your customized choice and use it to launch the app.

Perhaps one of the best features of 1OS14.5 is App Clips, a miniature version of the full app that will save you time and storage space. App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly to allow users to open and complete a task in seconds. Without downloading or installing an entire app, you can still access its features for basic features like renting a tourist bike while you’re out sightseeing or making reservations at a restaurant without having to install a new app every time.  

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

iMessage Tips and Tricks

I’ve been a loyal Apple cult member product user for many years, and hands down one of my favorite features is iMessage. Each software update improves its usability, but at the end of the day, it’s iMessage’s clean interface that makes it the simplest way to exchange texts with my family and friend iOS and Android users alike. 

One of my favorite features is QuickPath, which – to be fair – is a feature that Android users have had for almost a decade. QuickPath is a swipe keyboard that you can access directly from the iMessage screen. Previously, users had to open the keyboard options and toggle to swipe instead of type, but with iOS 13, QuickPath is native. Instead of tapping each key, simply drag your finger from one character to the next to spell out the text. Stop when you get to the end of a word, then start the next word. To insert a period, tap the space bar twice and start a new sentence. 

If you want to share your name and photo, Go to Settings > Messages > Share Name and Photo, then tap Choose Name and Photo. You then have a choice to select a photo to use or tap the ellipsis icon (…) to select an image from your library. Or, if you prefer, you can create your custom memoji – simply strike a (facial) pose and snap your photo as you would with any selfie. You can even add color or filter to your image of choice. You then choose if you want to use the image with your Apple ID and contact card and whether you want to automatically share this image with contacts only or have the app always ask whether or not to share it. If you select Name and Photo Sharing to Contacts Only, your new image is automatically shared with anyone you text but if you choose Always Ask, each time you compose a message a notice will appear at the top of the screen asking if you wish to share.

If you want to run a search for something within your text history, it’s easy. From the main Messages screen, swipe down to reveal the search field at the top of the screen. Tap the box and the app will display several suggested items such as contacts, photos, locations, links, and attachments. Type a search term in the field and the results will list any related photos, conversations, etc.

The Info icon at the top of a conversation is linked to related content about that contact. Simply open a conversation, tap the individual’s name at the top of the screen, then tap Info. Then, swipe down to see photos, links, and other content associated with that person. To see it all, tap See All Photos or See All Links.

You can also ask Siri to announce your incoming text messages to you through AirPods (second generation), AirPods Pro, and certain supported Beats headphones. To turn this feature on, go to Settings > Siri & Search > Announce Messages and then tap Messages. Select whether you want messages announced from favorite contacts, recent messages, all contacts, or everyone.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Getting Along with Siri

How to make Apple’s personal assistant your friend

By Tracey Dowdy

I have a complicated love/hate relationship with Siri. On one hand, she’s a lifesaver as I am blind as a bat without my reading glasses, so texting or emailing without them ends up being an intriguing game of deciphering autocorrect and “I wonder what that’s supposed to mean” for the recipient. On the other hand, sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth when she consistently or repeatedly misunderstands what I’m saying. It can be frustrating and, to be clear, it’s not you Siri, it’s me!

However, there are ways to improve your relationship with Siri that don’t involve couples therapy or walking away altogether. The key is to keep it simple. With a little patience and a little practice, you can get to know one another better and wonder how you ever lived without her!

Personalize your contacts

Siri had a rough time finding my daughter Ceilidh. (Go figure!) It’s pronounced Kaylee, but Siri was saying it as Kaleed. To correct Siri’s pronunciation, simply say, “That’s not how you pronounce Ceilidh.” Siri will ask you to pronounce it again for her. She’ll display 3 possible pronunciations and you can pick the correct one from this list. She’ll then pronounce the name and will pronounce it correctly going forward. Another option is to go into your Contacts>Edit>Add Field>Phonetic First Name. If a family member goes by a nickname, you have the option to add the nickname as well – Contacts>Edit>Add Field>Nickname.

Manage your calendar

Adding an appointment is as easy as saying “Siri, schedule a meeting with Paul tomorrow at 11 am.” If the individual is in your contact list, he will receive an email invitation. If you say “Schedule a meeting” but don’t include details such as a date or time, Siri will ask for clarification. If you make a mistake or need to make a change, it’s as easy as saying “Cancel my appointment with Paul tomorrow.” To review your day, you can ask Siri “What appointments do I have tomorrow?”

Hands-free texting

Use “Text” and “Tell” to have Siri send a message for you via SMS. Give simple commands like “Text Roy to meet me at Thai Orchid for dinner” or “Tell Ceilidh to pick up milk on the way home.” If you get a text while driving, you can have Siri read it aloud and respond without ever taking your eyes off the road.

Location-based instructions

One feature I recently became aware of is Location-Aware Reminders. Working via your phone’s GPS, Siri can send reminders as long as there is an address tied to the message. For example, if you need to pick up bagels on the way home, make sure the address for the deli is in your contacts. Tell Siri “Remind me to pick up bagels at Locke Street” and when you’re out running errands, a reminder will pop up. You will need to ensure Location Services is enabled – Settings > Privacy Location Services.

Check your voice mail

My husband insists on leaving voice mails, a source of never-ending frustration for me and our children. Just send a text! This isn’t 1987! Sorry – hit a nerve there. Discovering that Siri can retrieve and playback my voicemail may or may not have saved my marriage. Say, “Siri, play my voicemail” and she’ll put your phone on speaker and read it aloud to you.

Apple has a convenient user guide that will help you get started and walk you through how to use Siri. It includes a section on Frequently Asked Questions and list of apps that Siri works with worldwide.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.