How-to: Use Siri as a Hands-Free Calculator

Right now on the iOS app store there are countless talking calculators available for purchase and even some for free. We’ve looked at Talking Calculator (new window) in the past, and it does a great job of calculating complex formulas hands-free with full VoiceOver support. For users who are blind, have low-vision, or have learning disabilities that make it difficult to visually process numbers, talking calculators can help level the playing field by giving users the ability to engage in math problems independently.

But as much as we love talking calculators, iOS devices have the advantage of also having access to a built-in, hands-free (and free) calculator. Apple’s virtual assistant Siri (new window) is capable of performing some very simple, but very useful, hands-free calculations and it can perform those calculations without VoiceOver support!

An iPhone user pressing the “Home” button

Let’s take a look what Siri can do:

Simple Calculations

  1. Hold the home button or say “Hey Siri”.
  2. Say “What is 2 times 3” or “What is 545 divided by 3.5”
    Siri will then read the answer out loud as well as providing the answer on-screen.

Convert Measurements

  1. Hold the home button or say “Hey Siri”.
  2. Say “Convert three quarters to a percentage” or “Convert 1 pound to kilograms”
    Siri will read the answer out loud and provide the answer on-screen as a percentage, in its fraction form, and will even display the result as a pie chart.

Convert Dollars

  1. Hold the home button or say “Hey Siri”.
  2. Say “How many euros is one American dollar worth?” or “How many Canadian dollars is one euro worth?”
    Siri will then read the answer out loud as well as providing the answer on-screen.

Calculate Tips

  1. Hold the home button or say “Hey Siri”.
  2. Say “How much should I tip for a thirty dollar meal” or “Calculate a twelve percent tip on a thirty dollar meal”
    Siri will then read the answer out loud as well and provide the answer on screen. The default tip percentage is set to 12%, but it will also display the tip amount for 10% and 15%.

 

Note: Siri is limited in its ability to perform complex mathematical operations. For an app that can handle algebra or calculus, or anything involving order of operations, we would recommend using Talking Calculator (new window).