Siri is the name of the voice-activated assistant found in the Apple iPad. Like a vocal search engine, Siri listens to what you say, and responds accordingly.

You can get Siri to do all kinds of things: ask it what the weather is, get directions, look for local businesses, and ask general knowledge questions like “What is the capital of Moldova” or “How far is Jupiter from Mars.” Siri will look online and answer your question.

Siri doesn't always work - it often misunderstands you or gets the wrong idea, but the more you use it, the better it gets. You soon learn what it’s great at - answering questions, setting alarms and reminders, for instance - and what is a bit trickier, such as creating calendar events and sending emails.

If you have any new iOS device you certainly shouldn’t miss out on Siri. Here’s how to get started with Siri on an iPad.

Check out the video above to find out more.

 

Step 1: Access Siri

Step 1: Access Siri

Check Siri is turned on by going to Settings - General - Siri. Hold down the Home button to activate Siri. The iPad’s screen will blur and you’ll hear a noise and the screen will display ‘What can I help you with?’.

Just speak out your request and when you finish Siri will respond. You can say anything, but start by asking Siri a question like: “What’s the weather going to be like?”

 

Step 2: Send a message

Step 2: Send a message

Siri is great for sending messages. Just say: “Tell Jane I’m on my way” and Siri will send display the message on screen, if it's correct, tap the Confirm button or say “Yes” to send the message.

 

Step 3: Open apps

Step 3: Open apps

You can use Siri to open apps, which is great if you have a lot of hard-to-find apps buried in various folders.

Say: “Open Maps” to switch straight to the Maps app, for example.

You can access Siri from anywhere on the iPad so this quickly becomes a great alternative to scrolling through screens and folders searching for the app you want to open.

[Related story: How to childproof your iPad and avoid unwanted bills]

Step 4: Find places

Step 4: Find places

Siri works with the Maps app to find places. You can say: “Where’s Manchester?” to view a map of the city. Tap the map to open the Maps app and view it in depth.

You can also ask for Directions, by saying something like: “Show me how to get from London to Manchester”.

 

Step 5: Find me a business

Step 5: Find me a business

You can ask Siri to find businesses near you. This is great if you're looking for a restaurant or nearby pub for example. Just say: “Find a good indian restaurant near me” and Siri will show you nearby restaurants sorted by customer rating.

Tap one to view it in the Maps app and get directions.

 

Step 6: Set timers and reminders

Step 6: Set timers and reminders

Siri is great for setting alarm clocks and timers.

You can just say: “Wake me up at 7:30” to have your iPad set an alarm, or “Set a timer for five minutes” to start a countdown.

You can also get Siri to add Reminders. Say to Siri: “Remind me to buy some milk” to create a reminder with “buy some milk” in it, for instance.

[Related story: Discover Earth from your iPad]

Step 7: Ask a general question

Step 7: Ask a general question

You can try asking Siri general questions. Ask it all kinds of things, such as information on places, distances, and the natural world.

Siri won’t always know what you’re asking, but if it does it’ll reply with information from the Bing search engine and a service called Wolfram Alpha. Between the two, it's pretty smart.

 

Step 8: A list of things to try

Step 8: A list of things to try

If you're stuck for things to say to Siri then tap on the Help icon in the bottom left of Siri (or just say: “Help”).

Siri will display a list of things you can say to it. If you tap on any of the items Siri displays some variations of things you can say.

This is a great way to become familiar with all the different things you can ask Siri.

 

Do you use Siri on your iPad? Do you find it useful? Let us know in the Comments below.