Explainer Mobile

What is Siri?

Catch up on the basics of Apple's virtual assistant.

Oscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Hold down the home button on your Apple iPhone, and you can ask a question of Siri -- Apple's version of what we generically call a "virtual assistant." Talk to Siri, and you can search the internet, make a call, set a reminder and even control certain smart home devices.

You can also get Siri's attention by holding down a button on attached headphones or saying "Hey, Siri" if your Apple device is plugged in. Here's a list of all the ways to get Siri's attention and almost everything you can ask Apple's assistant.

Siri is built into all modern iPhones and iPads, as well as Apple's Mac computers and Apple's smart watches. Siri will also be featured in Apple's upcoming HomePod -- a smart speaker that responds to your voice commands akin to the Amazon Echo. Apple might be following Amazon's lead with the the HomePod, but Siri helped popularize the concept that gave rise to the assistant in the Echo -- Amazon's Alexa.