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Seven cool Siri tricks in iOS 7

Call it "Flowers for Siri": the old gal just got a whole lot smarter.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Last month I shared my thoughts on "How to talk to Siri the right way," the idea being to better understand -- and work around -- some of Apple's voice assistant's limitations.

With the arrival of iOS 7, however, we've got a smarter, more capable gal Friday (or, if you've changed Siri's voice, guy Friday). Here are seven new tricks Siri has learned and how to use them.

1. Change your settings

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Although the new Control Center makes it simple to toggle settings like Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, and screen brightness, Siri can now handle these kinds of settings as well. It's a simple matter of saying, "Turn on Bluetooth," or the like.

Even better, if there's a setting you want but don't know where to find, let Siri take you there. Say something like "change font size" and you'll land at exactly the right Settings menu.

2. Train her to recognize unusual names

Is Siri constantly mangling the name of a friend or co-worker (like that "Broida" character)? Gone are the days of manually tweaking "phonetic name" pronunciations; now you just train Siri so she always gets it right.

All you do is say "pronounce [person's name]," then follow the steps through a simple learning procedure.

3. Do more with Twitter

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Siri used to have fairly basic Twitter integration, but now she's totally up on what's trending.

In fact, you can ask things like, "What's trending on Twitter?", "What's cheapskateblog saying?" (or any person/company/handle), or "Search Twitter for hash tag [whatever]." Queries like these will return Twitter-centric results.

4. Choose your search engine

Siri still manages to bungle certain searches if you don't prefix them properly.
Siri still manages to bungle certain searches if you don't prefix them properly. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

For better or worse, Microsoft's Bing is now the default Siri search engine. (The implementation can still be screwy, though. If you say "Mount Everest" or "search for Mount Everest," you'll get, shockingly, nothing. You have to say "search the Web for Mount Everest.")

However, you can also prefix your request with "search Google for" or "search Wikipedia for," and Siri will give you the corresponding results -- though using the former will bounce you into Safari rather than listing the results in Siri's own little page.

5. Read your e-mail

As I recall, if you asked old Siri if you had any new e-mail messages, she could tell you. New Siri can actually start reading those new messages to you if you say, "Read my e-mail." You'll hear the sender's name, the date/time of the message, and the subject line.

You can also say "read my latest e-mail" or "Do I have e-mail from [person]?", the latter helpful for checking in on messages from, say, your spouse or boss.

If you want the full message, just tap the onscreen preview to open up Mail proper. Or, better yet, say "Read the [number in the list] one," as in, "Read the third one."

6. Turn off navigation

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Apple Maps can get you where you need to go (most of the time), but if you've reached a familiar part of your route (like when you're on your way home) and no longer need battery-draining GPS assistance, just tell Siri to "cancel navigation."

7. Play iTunes Radio

In the mood for a little Daft Punk? Maybe some adult alternative? Siri has her finger on the iTunes Radio dial. You can ask for an artist or station and she'll queue it right up. The syntax: "Play iTunes Radio Daft Punk." "Play iTunes Radio adult alternative." And so on.

Have you found any other new Siri tricks worth sharing? Let's hear about them in the comments!