Since Apple’s introduction of Siri, the world has become enamoured with its dulcet, sometimes playful, tones. What many people do not realise, however, is that the iPhone had a voice control system in place long before Siri made its mark.
The Rise of Siri
The Voice Control function first appeared in iOS 3.2 on the iPhone 3GS. Of course, with Siri’s rise to dominance, many people simply discarded Voice Control and forgot it ever existed.
However, the iPhone’s Voice Control feature has a number of uses that can help when at work or play. It is a far more robust and nuanced Voice Control system than many might remember, with Apple refining and updating it. It also worth noting that not everyone has an iPhone 4G or later. Voice command can provide great voice-controlled functionality for those with older models.
Detailed below are some of the most useful commands and some that might have flown under the radar.
Changing between songs, albums and playlists when on the move is something that most people struggle with at one time or another.
Scrolling through tracks and albums on the move wither means potentially colliding with an inconveniently placed lamppost or stopping in the middle of the pavement, drawing sounds of annoyance from other pedestrians.
Changing music with Voice Control is easy and quick, keeps hands free and prevents meandering in the middle of public highways and byways.
- Start Music – A simple “Play” or “Play Music” fires up the iPhone’s in-built music app or, alternatively, one of the many other apps for playing music on the iPhone.
- Choose a Specific Artist – “Play artist”, suffixed with the name of the band or solo act in question. For example, “Play artist Nirvana” and Kurt Cobain will soon be singing away. This command also works with a “Play songs by…” command.
- Pick a Playlist – One of the most annoying things about modern portable music players is having to go in and out of menus and surmounting the barriers between albums and playlists. This Voice Control, with a simple “Play playlist…’ brings up any playlist the listener wants.
- Play a Specific Album – This command is an easy to remember “Play album” command. The iPhone music player of choice will open it up and start the album from the beginning.
- Genius Feature – Sometimes, one of the best parts of listening to music is the unknown. This is often lost when playing from a set album or playlist. The genius feature offsets this and brings back the random element that a DJ might provide.
- With a Voice Control of “Genius, “Play more songs like this” or “Play more like this”, the iPhone will select similar tracks and pleasantly surprise the listener.
- Get Track Information – It is easy to have so much music that it becomes hard to remember just what is playing. By asking “Who sings this song?” or “What’s playing?”, the iPhone will provide all the salient details and refresh the listener’s memory.
- Shuffle the Playlist – A simple “shuffle” will mix up everything in a particular playlist and help keep things fresh.
Siri is not the only voice-operated assistant that helps with making calls. Voice Control can also do a sterling job at interpreting instructions and making calls.
Call a Contact – If calling a phonebook contact, “Call” or “Dial” is the command. The caller either can use the person’s name, relationship to the caller – “Call Uncle Tony”, for example, or can also recognise a nickname.
If the caller wants to reach someone at a specific place, they simply suffix the “Call Uncle Tony” with “Home” or “Work”, and Voice Control will direct the call to a specific number.
Call a Number – A voice command of “Call” or “Dial”, followed by the desired digits. It is important to say each number clearly, to avoid Voice Control getting confused over unclear enunciation.
Corrections – Because certain names sound alike and mistakes happen, any of “No”, “Nope”, “Wrong” or “Not that” will set Voice Control right.
FaceTime – Sometimes a face-to-face call is better than just voice. To call someone using FaceTime, it is the same procedure as calling someone, except, unsurprisingly, “FaceTime” takes the place of “Dial” or “Call”.
VoiceOver – Whilst not part of the Voice Command suite, this is a very useful part of the iPhone that many people do not know is there.
Simply go to Settings, then General, scrolling down to Accessibility. From there, select VoiceOver.
VoiceOver can provide descriptions of items on the screen, battery level, phone orientation, as well as myriad other points of interest.
In addition, if the user selects a block of text from a book or other written source, VoiceOver will read it aloud.
Asking the Time – For times when it is hard to get to the phone, but deadlines are making themselves known, simply call out “What time is it?”
Stopping Voice Control – A simple “Stop” or “Cancel” will turn off Voice Control.