From the Home button engagement to the Hey Siri option to car connectivity and more, Apple users can activate and talk to the perennial voice assistant in quite a few ways. Ever since Siri’s debut, the voice-powered agent has had its fair share of problems due to the limited capabilities and issues recognizing different accents. As a result, users can talk to the Siri of today in several ways, all of which we’ll list, with a couple of tips thrown in for good measure. Here we go.
Using the Home button
The standard and most accustomed way of talking to Siri for many users is by pressing and holding the Home button. In this case, the button acts as a dedicated and physical Siri button (something that Samsung recently implemented with Galaxy S8 for its assistant, Bixby) that emits two quick beeps (a boop-boop sound, if you will). This signals that Siri is ready. All that’s left to do is to say what you have in mind. The assistant will automatically detect when you stop speaking. However, just in case you want to avoid a potential misunderstanding, there’s an option to press the microphone icon to let Siri know you’re done.
Owners of iPhone 6s or later, iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation), iPad Pro 10.5-inch, and iPad Pro (9.7-inch) can start talking as soon as they press the Home button. Siri listens from the first touch. Mac users have the option to click the Siri icon in the menu bar or Dock. Those with a Mac mini or a Mac Pro need to connect a microphone for Siri to hear their requests.
Hey Siri / Hi Siri feature must be plugged in, connected to a power supply
As of iOS 8, Apple implemented a hands-free mode widely known as Hey Siri. Users can talk to the digital assistant without pressing the Home button, which requires a tiny bit of tinkering in the Settings department. Go to Settings > Siri and allow the Hey Siri option. Say “Hey Siri” and ask your question or state your command. For instance, you can say “Hey Siri, how’s the traffic?” or “Hey Siri, get me a ride to the mall.”
As with the Home button scenario, users can use the Hey Siri feature whenever they want. Users with iPhone 6 and earlier models, as well as with another iPad or iPod touch model will need to plug the device into power in order to use the feature. It works in any situation as long as the device in question is connected to a power supply. This includes situations with the screen locked or if an application is already open and running.
Using Siri with CarPlay and headset
Apart from using “Hey Siri”, users can talk to Siri in their car or if they are on the go through their headset. In the first case, you need a vehicle that supports CarPlay. Which cars have CarPlay? There are currently 200+ car models with this feature, so check to see here if yours is on the list. If it is, you need to hold down the voice-command button on your steering wheel, then ask Siri. If there is a touchscreen with CarPlay, it has its own Home button (virtual, of course). The principle is the same—press, hold and speak after the beeps. In this case, you might want to tap the audio-wave button to let Siri know you’re done talking due to the background noise. In addition, opening certain apps like Phone or Messages can also activate Siri for a quick chat.
As for the headset and similar Bluetooth devices, users need to hold down the center button or call button until they hear a chime, then speak. Apple built a direct Siri function into AirPods where it’s enough to double-tap either earbud to activate the assistant. One thing worth mentioning here is Siri’s adaptive behavior. The voice agent registers the type of connection and acts accordingly. In the case of CarPlay or a headset, for example, Siri automatically reads the messages out loud so users can approve them before sending.
Different Siri voices
If listening to the same Siri voice bores you, you can change the voice of Siri and switch things up a bit. Go to:
- Settings >
- Siri >
- Siri Voice
From here you can browse through the selections. Users can choose between American, Australian, and British accents found on iOS 10, and a female Irish or South African accent on macOS Sierra. Just remember that Siri is designed to identify accents and dialects of the supported countries or regions. This means it will be most accurate for native speakers. You can also assign Siri a male or female gender.
Apple unveiled a few changes to Siri at the WWDC held in July 2017. They added a new voice, which sounds much smarter and more human. The new voice reportedly better replicates the way that people actually speak, speaking in different intonation. The changes will be available for both the female and male versions of the Siri voice.
What is type to Siri?
Another WWDC revelation is an accessibility feature called “Type to Siri”. Now, this may not be exactly like talking to Siri, but it’s a rather handy (huh!) feature to know. The feature does exactly what it says—you can text Siri a question instead of asking it. Users can turn on the “Type to Siri” by:
- Settings >
- General >
- Accessibility >
Check the option and turn it on by either holding the Home button or saying “Hey Siri”. The feature will also be available for Mac users through macOS High Sierra when it also launches in the fall.
“Type to Siri” is primarily for those that may not be able to speak their commands, but it’s also great for other situations when a voice query won’t do. For example, situations that require a quiet approach or when it’s too loud for Siri to fully understand you. Alternatively, you can also use the feature to edit the request instead of making a new one.
When it comes to how to talk to Siri, you can generally speak in a natural way when asking it for help. The assistant is at its best when you play to its strengths – iOS-integration features like setting memos, sending text messages and asking for certain services. Also, if there’s any doubt, you can always ask “What can you do?” to get an overview of Siri’s capabilities. For that, you can use several ways to talk to the intelligent agent. Whether you are toying with your iPhone, driving or just jogging with Air Pods, it’s there, waiting. Once you get accustomed to talking to Siri in different ways, you’ll find it a more valuable companion than before.