How to get started with the new iPad, iPad mini, iPhone and iPod touch

We take you through the setup of your new Apple device

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Siri knows a lot about weather and restaurants, sport results and film times. Apple says understanding the words you say is the easy part, and that Siri's true genius is in figuring out what you want when you say those words and providing you with the answer. Siri now also works with Apple's Maps application in the UK, so you can search for directions and local businesses.

Speak and spell: When you receive a text message, you can instruct Siri to read the message, and it will. You can then tell the software to reply, dictate the entire message, have Siri read it back to you to confirm that it makes sense and then send it.

Wake me up: It's much easier to set an alarm or timer using Siri than it is to unlock your phone, find the Clock app and tap within the app. Just say, "set a timer for three minutes," and your phone begins to count down until your tea is ready. "Set an alarm for 5am" does what you'd expect, instantly.

Take note: Say to Siri: "Remind me to record my favourite show" and it will. Saying "Note that I need to take my suit to the cleaners" works, too. These are short bursts of data input that can be handled quickly by voice, and they work well.

Compile your contacts

Phone numbers, email addresses, Twitter handles, usernames, aliases - your device can store all of this and more in the Contacts app, which syncs across iOS to provide communication auto-completion across the board. To make sure your Contacts list is as up to date as possible, here are a few ways to keep things neat, organised and useful.

Import contacts: To sync your contacts, iTunes will require you to connect specifically with one computer. Syncing is bi-directional: any changes made to a contact on your device will show up on the computer the next time you connect the two, and vice versa.

Sync with a Mac: On the Mac, your device can sync contacts from OS X's Address Book, an online Yahoo Address Book or your Google contacts. The first time you connect your phone to your Mac, iTunes will ask which contacts you want to import. You can choose to import every contact in OS X's Address Book or specify only selected groups.

Sync wirelessly: You can synchronise your device's contacts without having to connect to your computer. The best option is Apple's iCloud service. Visit Settings > iCloud and slide Contacts to On. Now any changes you make to Contacts will be reflected in the iCloud contacts on your Mac or other iOS devices.

Enter contacts manually: Enter the Contacts app and tap the '+' sign to create a new contact. Tap each section to enter the -appropriate contact information, including the name, company, number (or numbers), email address and website. But you're not limited to the default fields - tap Add Field at the bottom of the screen to access a list of additional -options, including birthday, nickname and a general Note field.

Access an LDAP account: If you have an LDAP account, you can connect to it from your device. You'll need the server address, a user name and a password. Go to Settings > Mail > Contacts > Calendars > Add Account > Other > Add LDAP Account. Enter your account information, tap Next to verify your account, then tap Save. The LDAP account will appear in your Contacts application in a new group. These contacts are stored on the server, so you must be connected to the internet when viewing and searching them.

Locate contacts: In the Phone app, All Contacts alphabetically lists every contact (you can set it to sort by first or last name in the Settings screen). You can scroll up and down, or use the alphabet running down the right side to jump to contacts starting with a particular letter. You can also look for someone by using the search bar at the top. Alternatively, you can perform a Spotlight search in the main Spotlight screen (swipe left from the first Home screen). The search results will include matching contacts.

If you have your contacts divided into groups and synced, you can also look through them using the Groups button.

Start downloading apps

Create an Apple ID: The first thing you need is an Apple ID, if haven't got one already. You can create this on a PC or Mac via iTunes (click the iTunes Store, then Sign In and follow the instructions), but we're going to create it on the device itself.

Hit the App Store icon on the home screen and tap the Featured icon at the bottom. Scroll down and press Sign In, then Create Apple ID. Choose a country, agree to the terms and conditions and enter an email address - this will act as your Apple ID - and password. (Apple is a lot stricter about password quality than it used to be, so be prepared to come up with something fairly long that includes upper- and lower-case letters and numbers.) You'll also need to enter some security questions and a 'rescue email address'.

Finally, you need to enter your card details, so you'll be able to buy apps - ultimately that's what the App Store is all about. Apple has a strong record on financial security (touch wood), so you should be safe entering your details. You'll only be charged if you actually buy something.

Download an app: Within the App Store, browse the apps to see if there's something you like. The Top Charts section shows the most popular downloads, while Featured has apps that Apple has picked out as new and/or interesting. If something takes your fancy, click it and you'll be taken to its page, where you can read reviews and view screenshots.

If you decide to proceed, press the button with the price written on it; it will turn green and change to 'Buy App'. Press it once again to confirm - the iOS device may now ask you to enter your password if you haven't been asked for it recently. The app will start downloading, appearing as an icon on the last page of your home screen. Click it to get started.

This story, "How to get started with the new iPad, iPad mini, iPhone and iPod touch" was originally published by Macworld U.K..

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