Get your phone’s AI assistant to actually assist you
Your smartphone’s artificially intelligent assistant can provide almost any fact on demand, from the capital of France to the number of bananas in a loaf of banana bread. But this app does much more than answer random trivia questions. It can also organize your life, adjust your phone’s settings, control smart gadgets, play music, and more.
This guide will focus on how to use these features with Siri on iOS and Google Assistant on Android. Other AI assistants—such as Bixby for Samsung phones and Microsoft’s Cortana for iOS and Android—offer similar abilities, so many of these instructions will also apply to them. However, this guide won’t help you as much with the mobile version of Alexa. Although Amazon has Alexa apps for iOS and Android, you’ll need a smart speaker to take full advantage of its capabilities.
To get started, fire up your app. For Siri, press and hold the Home button, or on the iPhone X, press and hold the Side button (the one on the right). In order to bring up the Google Assistant interface on stock Android, press and hold the Home button. Then get ready to put your phone’s AI through its paces.
Set reminders, alarms, and timers
If you had a real-life personal assistant, he could help you stay on task by reminding you about the tasks you need to do and keeping you on schedule. A mobile AI does the same thing by making it much easier to set reminders, alarms and timers.
To make sure you don’t forget an item on your to-do list, have your AI assistant remind you about it. Tell your phone, “Remind me to…” or “Set a reminder for…” to create the note. Then decide whether you’d like to receive the reminder at a specific date and time, or when you travel to a specific location. Either specify this trigger in your original command, or wait for Siri or Google Assistant to prompt you for this information. For example, you could say, “Remind me to buy flowers at 7am tomorrow,” or “Remind me to buy flowers when I’m at the grocery store.”
For a less specific nudge, you can set an alarm without bothering to delve into your phone’s clock app. Say to Siri or Google Assistant, “Set an alarm for…” followed by a time and optionally a date or day of the week.
On an alarm-related note, your AI also excels at quickly setting touch-free timers. So if you’re cooking and don’t want to smudge your greasy fingerprints all over your phone or oven, then tell your assistant, “Set a timer for…” any number of minutes, hours, or even days.
Adjust phone settings
Sure, you could spend precious time sifting through your phone’s menus to adjust that one little setting. Or you could save time and effort by having your AI buddy do it for you.
For example, a voice order can immediately and easily adjust your network connections. Simply tell Siri or Google Assistant, “Turn on Bluetooth,” “Turn off Wi-Fi,” or vice versa.
You can use a “Turn on Airplane Mode” command to cut off all phone communication—but be aware that this will prevent Siri and Google Assistant from working, so when you’re ready to switch off Airplane Mode, you’ll have to do it manually. To avoid interruptions in a less restrictive way, activate Do Not Disturb mode, which mutes all incoming notifications, by saying “Turn on (or off) Do Not Disturb.”
If you’re running low on battery, try telling Siri, “Turn on low power mode,” or commanding Google Assistant, “Turn on battery saver.” This will make your phone minimize the amount of power it guzzles. Another useful command is “change wallpaper,” which takes you straight to the relevant screen on your handset.
You can also adjust the screen’s brightness and the audio’s volume vocally. Just say, “Increase (or decrease) brightness” or “Increase (or decrease) volume.”