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The killer feature of iOS 15 — holy cow, it’s actually Siri

iOS 15
(Image credit: Apple)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used Siri on my iPhone 11 Pro Max only to have it time out on me while I was trying to make a request or dictate a message. As in, “I just said all of that and you picked up none of it?!”

Other times, Siri has been so slow to respond I just rage quit and resort to typing out my queries. The good news is that Siri is getting faster in iOS 15 — much, much faster — provided you have an iPhone with an A12 Bionic chip or newer.

Oh, and Siri will also let you do very cool things you’ve never been able to do on an iPhone before.

Let's start with the speed. Because Siri now offers on-device speech processing in iOS 15, all of your audio requests are processed on the iPhone itself via Apple’s Neural Engine. Yes, Google got here first with on-device processing for Google Assistant, but the upgrade is still very much welcome. 

Siri can complete several tasks in succession almost instantly, including launching apps, setting a timer, turning on dark mode, creating an alarm, setting reminders and sending text messages. 

Siri is getting a lot smarter in iOS 15, too. Say you have multiple people in your contacts named Brian. Siri is smart enough to know which one you contact most often and will default to that person if you just say the first name. 

Even better, it’s now super easy to share things with contacts via Siri. You can say, “Send this to Jennifer” while looking at a photo and Siri will automatically start a message to that contact with the image attached. Same thing goes for a news article in Safari. It's like magic. 

While Siri can share things within certain apps, when it can’t, it will take a screenshot of what’s on your iPhone’s display instead — such as the weather, so you can share the current conditions. When taking that screenshot, the Siri box temporarily disappears, so iOS 15 can capture the entire display. 

Siri’s IQ boost also includes its ability to refer to contacts on screen. If you’re in the Messages app, for example, you can say “Call her” or “FaceTime her,” and iOS 15 will know exactly what to do without you having to launch a separate app. 

If you don’t like having to repeat yourself, I have more good news. Siri in iOS 15 is now better at maintaining context. This allows you to ask all sorts of follow up questions. For instance, you can ask how many 3-pointers Luka Dončić has this year, then just say “Show me news about him” “How old is he?” or “Where is he from?” and Siri will flash the answers. 

There are other Siri superpowers that should make your lifer easier in iOS 15, including the ability to announce notifications (handy when you’re driving or working out). Some of these abilities require other Apple devices, such as the ability to fire up a show on Apple TV. But you can control smart hone devices from any Siri-enabled device. 

Overall, Siri in iOS 15 is shaping up to be a feature I’ll use all the time, which is a big change from its current status — as a last resort. That’s progress. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.