Siri Question and Answer Commands

Siri Question and Answer Commands

In this post, you’ll find good Siri Question and Answer commands to know. This Q/A category within Apple’s Siri Guide is essentially the catch-all section, including many types of random example questions you can ask Siri. For instance, you’ll find Siri questions related to math, cooking, events, and more. What’s also worth noting is Apple just released 14 new Siri commands to showcase improvements made on iOS 14 for this Q/A category.

As a bit of background, these wide-ranging Q/A commands are what many people judge Voice Assistant quality on—for better or worse. For Siri specifically, Apple’s Voice Assistant has a polarizing reputation for either answering questions 100% correctly or hilariously getting them completely wrong. And you don’t need to go far to find an example of this swinging pendulum. Just the other day I stumbled on the below example:

Siri Fail about unit conversions
Image credit: SiriFail Reddit thread here

Siri’s answer totally makes sense, right? I’m actually impressed that Siri could come up with a “mile Hong Kong dollars per hour” unit.

Apple is well aware of these sorts of blunders and seems to be working to improve Siri’s ability to answer general questions better. As proof of this, in the WWDC keynote this year, Apple touted that Siri now can answer 20 times more facts than before.

Apple Marketing Claim from WWDC20
Apple Marketing Claim from WWDC20

But I’m not completely sold. Apple didn’t offer many examples of what improvements were made or why. To me—and with my experience at Apple in mind—I’m suspect on whether or not this is all just marketing speak. 

But there is hope for significant improvements to Siri’s Q/A commands. Apple has pushed out a subtle update to the Siri Guide already, adding 14 new command examples. This puts the previous marketing claim in a much better light as now we have concrete examples to see how Siri is actually improving in this category. So without further delay, let’s get right into these Siri Question and Answer commands. 

See the most common questions answered in the FAQ section, or view the complete list of Siri Q/A commands under Keeping Up With Siri in the table of contents below.

FAQs

What are good Siri questions?

Good is tough to define. Start out with the question commands listed below. These might inspire you to come up with some better questions to try with Siri.

Can Siri answer math questions?

Yes. Siri can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square roots, and exponents. Siri can also do simple tip calculations for you. To see the full list, check out the Siri math commands below.

Just don’t try out calculus on Siri—Bad idea.

How to type Siri questions?

Did you know you can type Siri commands on iPhone and iPad? It comes in handy.

When Siri is open, tap on the text at the top. That will cause the keyboard to pop up. Now you can type in whatever command you want. Then when you press enter, Siri will execute your new command.

Who answers Siri questions?

It depends on the question. Many of Siri’s answers come directly from Wikipedia. Typically, Siri has a notification at the bottom of the UI that lists the source of the information.

What is considered a Q/A command?

Truthfully, this is tough to answer. This Q/A section is more of an “everything else” collection where each subject matter isn’t large enough to warrant its own page within Apple’s Siri Guide. That’s why we see a bunch of commands mixed together for random topics, like space, math, events, and the dictionary.

How did you find these new commands?

During my time writing this series and collecting the available list of commands, I’ve noticed a few additions to the Q/A section. These subtle and unannounced changes are really my focus and goal for the series. I want to find new updates to Apple’s official guide and highlight improvements as they happen. To learn more, jump to the next section. 

Keeping Up With Siri

Discovering what you can say or ask Siri is tough to do. That’s where Keeping Up With Siri comes in. In this series, I highlight the available list of 366 Siri commands within Apple’s official Siri Guide—breaking down each category into its own post. For instance, this post specifically covers using Siri to ask questions and get answers for a wide range of topics, such as math, space, events, history, and the dictionary. 

Q/A Commands

Event Commands

“Hey Siri, when does Coachella start?”

“Hey Siri, When is Mardi Gras?”

Siri is able to answer date information about popular events. For instance, with the above two examples, Apple gives us two slightly different ways to ask Siri about events. With the first, Apple shows how Siri knows recent events that change over time, like popular concerts. With the second example, Apple highlights how Siri knows holidays.

Natural Disaster Commands

“Hey Siri, was that an earthquake?”

“Hey Siri, were there any earthquakes in California today?”

These two commands are important questions that are asked often where Apple is headquartered. With these examples, Apple shows how Siri knows about natural disasters, which also goes beyond earthquakes, covering things like hurricanes and wildfires, too. 

Math Commands

“Hey Siri, how many ounces are in a liter?”

“Hey Siri, what’s 16 times 42?”

Math and Unit Conversion are really important for a Voice Assistant to master. I ask questions exactly like these all the time, and I’m sure I’m not alone in doing so.

To that end, Apple includes these two example commands as proof that Siri is readily capable to perform basic unit conversions. Siri can also do basic math, multiplication, addition, subtraction, and division.

Dictionary Commands

“Hey Siri, what’s the definition of pragmatic?”

Did you know you can use Siri as a dictionary? When I use this example command, Siri not only shows me the definition, but also tells me it aloud. Pretty handy. 

Definition Siri UI
Definition Siri UI

“Hey Siri, how do you spell camouflage?”

Within the same vein as the last command, Siri can also spell words for you. As an example of this, give the above command a try. You’ll get the same output as if you were asking for a definition.

Cooking & Dining Commands

“Hey Siri, how many calories in a bagel?”

“Hey Siri, how much fat is in a banana?”

“Hey Siri, what is the nutritional value of broccoli?”

“Hey Siri, how many calories are in a potato?”

The above examples show how Siri knows general dietary information about food. The information provided once asking these questions is pulled from USDA.com. 

Dietary Info Siri UI
Dietary Info Siri UI

What’s more, Siri gives you a nice UI for these questions, like with the above screenshot offering more detailed information regarding bagels.

“Hey Siri, what is an 18% tip on $86.74 for four people?”

Siri’s ability to calculate tips is a late addition into Apple’s Siri Guide of commands. Although incredibly useful—especially when you have multiple people dining with you—this command may not always work correctly. 

For instance, when I give this command, Siri isn’t able to interpret “86 74” as the same currency value of $86.74. Example shown of this below. 

Tip Calculation Siri UI
Tip Calculation Siri UI

Because of the blunder with understanding currency, this command and others like it might land into the “Siri Fails” bucket, much like the Hong Kong example from above. My advice? Try this command and overall Siri capability, but don’t expect Siri to work it out 100% correctly all of the time. 

New Q/A Commands for iOS 14

This section of question and answer commands is the latest addition to Apple’s Guide. In short, these 14 commands are brand new to Siri, first appearing in late June around the time of WWDC. So if you’re just as excited as I am to see what Apple has improved for iOS 14, keep scrolling below. 

General Question Commands

“Hey Siri, who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?”

“Hey Siri, how long do greyhounds live?”

“Hey Siri, what is the Gossamer Condor?”

“Hey Siri, tell me about Pixar?”

With these example commands in mind, it’s clear that at a high level Siri can now answer questions about species of animals, like with canines and birds, historical figures, and companies. The answers are great, but I won’t spoil them for you—try these commands out for yourself!

Math Commands

“Hey Siri, what’s the square root of 128?”

“Hey Siri, how many dollars is €45?”

These two commands easily show how Siri’s math skills have improved. Now Siri can do square roots and exponents. What’s more, Siri can do unit conversions with currency, which is much tricker to carry out for a Voice Assistant considering currency values change over time.

Event Commands

“Hey Siri, how many days until Christmas?”

I’m really excited to see this command and general Siri capability be added. I see Apple users ask Siri for date ranges on holidays all the time, wanting this exact structure. Now it’s a reality where Siri can countdown to big holidays.

Space Commands

“Hey Siri, how far away is the Sun?”

“Hey Siri, when is the next solar eclipse?”

“Hey Siri, show me the Orion constellation?”

Quite unexpectedly, Siri now knows more about the universe. When answering these two questions, Siri sources Wikipedia.

Geography Commands

“Hey Siri, how high is Mt. Whitney?”

“Hey Siri, how deep is the Atlantic ocean?”

Space is great, but in turning more Earth-focused, we also see how Siri knows more about major geographical wonders of the natural world. 

Civic Commands

“Hey Siri, what’s the population of Jamaica?”

“Hey Siri, what’s the population of San Francisco?”

Last but not least, Apple amps up civi commands with the new ability for Siri to know population statistics for both countries and cities around the world. Siri sites Wikipedia as the source.

And there we have it. With these 14 new commands in mind, we now have definitive examples for what Apple means by Siri having 20x more facts in iOS 14. Not only is there better integration with Wikipedia, but there’s now more improvements with Siri math commands, something I know is a very popular use case for many users. Needless to say, I’m decidedly less skeptical now with the WWDC marketing claim and look forward to seeing the remainder of Siri’s improvements. 

If you’re interested in following along with not only what Siri can currently do now but also with what Siri improves on in iOS 14, view the complete series Keeping Up With Siri Commands

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