iPad, iPad Mini and iPhone between an oversized speaker and microphone resembling Apple icons.

Did You Know There Are 3 Ways To Speak To Your iPhone or iPad?

Did you know that your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch has no less than three different ways built in for you to speak to it? Each system has its own uses, advantages and disadvantages and this article will explain exactly how they work and where to find more information for each one.

The three methods are:

Voice Control

The Voice Control system was first introduced in iOS 3.2 on the iPhone 3GS and was the earliest form of voice control available on iDevices.

Voice Control uses the device itself for voice processing which means it can be quite slow – especially on older devices – but also means it works in places where there is no fast internet connection available.

Voice Control understands a very limited set of phrases and is not very interactive. If it can’t decide what you said it may ask you which of several options you meant, but otherwise it does not interact in the way Siri does.

iOS 7 Voice Control screen
iOS 7 Voice Control screen

Voice control does not care about your geographic location because it works on the phone itself. It functions in these languages and dialects/accents: Chinese (Cantonese, China, Taiwan), Danish, Dutch, English (Australia, UK, USA), Finnish, French (Canada, France), German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Russian, Spanish (Mexico, Spain), Swedish.

For more information on Voice Control, try these articles:

Siri

Siri was first introduced as part of iOS 5 for the iPhone 4S, and runs on the third generation iPad and all other devices released during or after October 2012.

Siri running on iOS 7 on my iPhone 5
Siri running on iOS 7 on my iPhone 5

Siri has many more features than Voice Control, understands much more spoken language, and is generally more flexible and able to do more things. Siri is integrated with most of the iOS standard apps, and can also make use of Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha (English only), Facebook, Twitter, and searching the web with Bing or Google. On the downside, though, Siri requires an active internet connection to work and so it can be slow if your internet is slow.

Siri understands the following languages and dialects: United States (English, Spanish), United Kingdom (English), Australia (English), France (French), Germany (German), Japan (Japanese), Canada (Canadian French, English), China (Mandarin), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Italy (Italian), Korea (Korean), Mexico (Spanish), Spain (Spanish), Switzerland (French, German, Italian), Taiwan (Mandarin).

Some parts of Siri’s functioning are also only available in certain geographic areas. Important things like Twitter and Facebook integration, local search, and directions are limited to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, and USA. Functions related to movies and restaurants have even smaller numbers of places where they will work properly. Check the iOS feature availability list and iOS: About Siri document to check whether Siri will work where you are.

And remember that using Siri will use bandwidth – if you are on a mobile phone connection keep a close eye on your data cap until you are familiar with how much it uses!

For more information about Siri, check out these articles:

Dictation

Dictation is a sub-set of Siri which is especially tuned to turn your speech into text, as an alternative to using the iPhone keyboard. If dictation is available to you, you should see a microphone in the bottom left of your iPhone on screen keyboard.

Tap the microphone glyph, indicated by the red arrow, to start Siri's Dictation.
Tap the microphone glyph, indicated by the red arrow, to start Siri’s Dictation.

If there is no microphone you may have Siri switched off or you may be using a language not supported by dictation.

When using Siri for dictation, speak the punctuation marks you wish to have inserted as they are needed. For example, to dictate “Pick up the new iPad and suddenly, it’s clear”, say “Pick up the new iPad and suddenly comma it’s clear period”.

iOS 7 keyboard display while dictating into Notes app.
iOS 7 keyboard display while dictating into Notes app.

Siri’s Dictation feature is available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, and USA.

– Ricky

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4 thoughts on “Did You Know There Are 3 Ways To Speak To Your iPhone or iPad?”

  1. Is there a speech to text app for
    iPAD or iPhone5c? I’m going blind, but no fear… My note taker and twin is deaf. We both need this, because we are both 3 classes away from hopefully earning our Doctorates.

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