Identity Crisis: Siri and iMessages

Maybe I have too many iDevices in my family (not possible), but I've run into this issue several times. It happened when I got my new iPhone 5 last year. I pull it out of the box and start talking to my shiny new phone via Siri and Siri calls me "Erin." So I politely tell Siri that I am not Erin. So what does Siri do? She says, "Ok, I'll call you 'not Erin' from now on is that ok?" No Siri, that's not ok! Then just a few days ago my wife finally catches up to the future of telephony and got the iPhone 5. She opens it up and Siri is calling her "Clark"...my name. So now her new phone thinks its mine and my iPhone and iPad have taken on my wife's identity. Since I've had so much fun doing this lately I thought I would share with everyone how to quickly and easily solve the identity crisis that can occur when swapping or upgrading iDevices.

Siri, just don't call me Shirley

What you want Siri to call you is between you and Siri. But remember, that just asking Siri via voice command to call you a name doesn't properly identify YOU as the owner of the phone. In our case Siri was telling my wife that she was "Clark", but because her and Siri "were friends" Siri could call her "Erin." What that means is that Siri has assigned YOU a nickname field in the contact card that is assigned as the iPhone's owner. So how do you make sure that your contact card in Contacts is what your iPhone is using as the iPhone owner's card? There are two things to check here:

1.) If you have a device with Siri you need to go to Settings > General > Siri > My Info

From there you will be able to select the card in your Contacts that you want       associated with Siri so Siri knows who the owner of the iPhone is.

2.) Whether your device has Siri or not you will also want to check that Mail, Contacts, Calendars is also identifying you as YOU. Go to Mail, Contact, Calendars > My Info

From there you will be able to select the card in your Contacts that you want identified to identify as YOU when you are using things like Mail, Messages and Calendar. 

IMessage and FaceTime Contact Methods

Another thing that can easily be confusing when dealing with multiple devices across a family and multiple email and phone numbers is how to assign phone numbers and email addresses to individual devices so that each individual person can be contacted differently for FaceTime and iMessages. The best way to ensure that your device is setup the way you want it is to go to Settings and under Messages > Send & Receive you should see 3 things:

  • The Apple ID associated with iMessages at the very top
  • A list of phone numbers and email addresses that can be reached by iMessage
  • A list of phone numbers and email addresses that can be used to start a new iMessage (this one is important because if you want to be able to receive an iMessage with your personal email but you don't want people who don't already have your personal email address to have it... you want to make sure your personal email address is NOT listed here.

There is a similar setup for FaceTime in Settings under FaceTime > 

There you will find a switch to turn on and off FaceTime (in case you don't ever want to be contacted via FaceTime, a specification of the Apple ID associated with FaceTime and a list of additional email addresses that you can be reached at on this device via FaceTime.

Rather than go into great detail about the setup I will point to an excellent article by iLounge here. But I do want to explain two very important points. You can use the same Apple ID email address on multiple devices for both iMessages and FaceTime, but the way you distinguish between devices is by adding additional email addresses and phone numbers to each device. That way if you want to iMessage or FaceTime between 2 different devices that are using the same Apple ID there is a way to tell the two devices apart. Another really important thing to understand is that you CAN NOT associate the same non-Apple ID email address with more than one device. For example, I was wanting to associate my gmail address with both my iPhone and iPad so that I could get a FaceTime call on both devices at the same time and decide which one I wanted to use (in case I only had one device on me at the time). But this is not possible. Only the main Apple ID associated with iMessages and FaceTime will ring or message all devices at the same time.

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