The best Siri feature you're not using

In an informal survey of iPhone users, a grand total of zero knew about this insanely handy Siri trick -- which, bonus, might save your life.

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Surprise! Siri will read your text messages aloud. All you have to do is ask. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

My friends and family are so tech-challenged.

How tech-challenged are they?!

My friends and family are so tech-challenged, they don't even know one of Siri's all-time greatest features. I learned this after telling a friend about it and getting a blank stare in return. "It can do that?" he finally exclaimed.

So then I asked some other friends. And some family members. Total number who knew this feature existed: zero. It didn't even make CNET's own 20 Siri tips that'll make your life easier.

To the Internet, I cried. But not out loud. Because that would be weird.

So, Internet friends and family, here it is: Siri can read your latest text messages. Like when someone texts you while you're driving, and you know you're not supposed to look at your iPhone because it's a deadly risk, not just for you, but for the guy in the oncoming lane, probably me, thanks for killing us both?

That's when you fire up Siri and say, "read my text messages." Presto: the old gal reads (aloud, naturally -- it would be disturbing if she read it to herself) the contents of the most recent missive. And then asks if you'd like to reply. Say "yes" if you would, or "no, read the next one" if there's another one.

Maybe you already know this, in which case I don't understand why you've read this far, or maybe you don't think it's such a big deal. But it is. In fact, I consider it one of Siri's most powerful capabilities. Start using it, especially when you're behind the wheel, and you're a lot less likely to plow into a tree. Or into me, which would be much worse.

Siri can read your email, too, though I consider that less of a safety feature because no one is crazy enough to actually read email while driving. Right?

Anyway, that option is one of the seven cool Siri tricks I wrote about last year. All of which make me excited to see what new hoops she learns to jump through in iOS 8. What Siri features would you like to see? And what existing features are your favorites?

 

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