4 Tips For Using Voice Control

Mac|Life
Adam Berenstain

Keep your hands free with these Voice Control commands for iOS

Everyone’s talking about rumored voice recognition features in iOS 5, but the future is now thanks to Voice Control. With it you can control two of your iOS 4 device’s most important features –– making phone calls and playing music –– with simple spoken directions. The trick is using Voice Control’s pre-set commands to make it understand you.

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1. Take Control

Voice Control runs on your iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and third or fourth generation iPod touch. To activate it, you don’t even have to swipe to unlock your device –– just press and hold the Home button, or the center button on your earbud remote, until you see the Voice Control screen and hear a chirp. After that cue, tell your device what to do by speaking into its built-in microphone, or one connected by the headphone jack or over Bluetooth. Voice Control repeats what it thinks you asked for, then gets to work.

2. Know What to Say

To make a call on your iPhone, say “call” or “dial,” followed by a number or the name of an Address Book contact. If multiple numbers are assigned to a contact, specify one by adding “home,” “mobile,” or any label associated with the contact in Address Book. If you don’t, Voice Control asks which one you want to use before making a call. To connect with FaceTime, say “FaceTime,” followed by a contact’s name.

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If you forget a Voice Control command, double-check your screen for help.

To play music in the iPod or Music app, say “play,” then “artist,” “album,” or “playlist,” followed by the appropriate name for your selection (unfortunately, Voice Control won’t play individual songs). To control playback, say “play,” “pause,” (also “play music” and “pause music”) “next song,” or “previous song.” You can also shuffle the current album or playlist by saying, “shuffle” and learn about the current song by saying, “what’s playing,” “what song is this?” “who sings this song?” or “who is this song by?” You can even create a Genius playlist by saying, “Genius,” “play more like this,” or “play more songs like this,” while a track plays.

There’s more: ask “what time is it?” or “what is the time?” and Voice Control will tell you. To cancel Voice Control, just say “cancel,” or “stop.” If you’re stuck for a command, check your Voice Control screen for a scrolling cheat-sheet.

3. Parlez-Vous iOS?

Voice Control recognizes and speaks 24 languages. To change the language used for spoken commands, tap Settings, then General>International>Language (this also changes the language used throughout your device). To change the language Voice Control uses to respond to commands, tap General>International>Voice Control. You can also prevent voice dialing while your iPhone is locked with a passcode by choosing General>Passcode Lock, then turn Voice Dial off.

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Fancy Voice Control feedback with an international flavour? Of course you do.

4. Speaker Beware

Speech recognition technology isn’t perfect, but in most situations Voice Control will reliably do your bidding. You can help it help you by pausing slightly between words and speaking clearly in a natural tone. Avoid situations with loud background noises, too. That cute guy or girl at the party won’t be impressed if you try to play a little mood music and accidentally dial grandma.

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