Tech Tip: Using Siri as a Quick Calculator

Sometimes pulling up the calculator on an iPhone just to make a quick calculation can take more time than if you just did the numbers on a piece of paper. You have to find the app, clear any previous results, and then hope you tap the right buttons. It’s even worse on the iPad, since Apple chose not to provide a calculator app with its tablet. That’s no problem, since Siri will be glad to help you with many calculations.

Let’s start by adding up three numbers:

“Siri, what is 123.47 plus 34.993 plus 21.016?”

Siri: Addition

Subtraction isn’t a problem for Siri, either:

“What is 2,876 minus 423.93?”

Siri: Subtraction

Multiplication? Naturally, Siri’s a whiz at that:

“What is 225.44 times 631.53?”

Siri: Multiplication

And how about division?

“What is 2,800 divided by 3.14159?”

Siri: Division

Siri’s smart enough that it realizes you’re dividing by Pi, so it gives you an approximate answer to go along with that irrational number. Can Siri do everyday calculations? Let’s give it a try:

“What’s the area of a circle that is 5 inches in diameter?”

Siri: Find the area of a circle with known diameter

For that answer, Siri tosses the question over to WolframAlpha, which accurately displays the answer. Let’s get even more crazy:

“What’s the surface area of a sphere with a radius of 25 feet?”

Siri: Surface area of a sphere with known radius

Siri and WolframAlpha make a great team, and I don’t think they were even breathing hard making that calculation. Siri can even do some statistical calculations:

“What’s the average of 123.47 and 34.993 and 21.016?”

Siri: Calculating mean of three numbers

Note that since I had a few numbers there, I had to separate them with the word “and”. How about calculating the standard deviation of that small statistical sample?

“What’s the standard deviation of 123.47 and 34.993 and 21.016?”

Siri: Standard deviation

Cool. Siri can also do square roots and cube roots!

“What’s the square root of 23.448? What’s the cube root of 23.448?”

Siri: Square Root and Cube Root

And if you ask nicely, Siri will square numbers for you as well:

“What is the square of 93.48?”

Siri: Squaring a number

Siri will also do some fractions for you:

“What is one third of 527?”

Siri: Fractions

By the way, if you happen to have an Apple Watch, it makes an even handier Siri calculator. Just raise your wrist, say “Hey, Siri” and then recite the calculation you’d like Siri to do. Oddly, some of the calculations that are done by WolframAlpha require the Watch to hand off the answer to an iPhone, while others do not.

I’ve just provided a sample of Siri’s fun and useful calculation powers here, and I leave it to the readers to find more ways to use Siri as a calculator. If you come up with something amazing, let us all know about it in the comments section below.


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