The iPhone 3GS introduced voice commands. That phone and the iPhone 4 can listen to your voice commands and carry out specific functions according to what you say. iOS 4 added additional commands, and we’d be interested in seeing if anything new happens with iOS 5 as far as voice commands go.
Here’s how to do that.
Before we start, let us say that the iPhone’s voice recognition technology isn’t the best we’ve seen. It can be a bit annoying trying to get it to do certain things.
1) Hold down the Home Button for a few seconds. This works from the Home Screen as well as while the phone is asleep.
2) You will see the screen light up with a blue background and it reads “Voice Control.”
3) The phone will beep, and that is your cue to speak.
– You can use various commands such as “Call” and a contact’s name. This works fairly easily, and has not failed us yet. If there are two contacts, you must say the last name as well. Otherwise, it will inform you that there are two contacts who share a first name.
– You can also say “Call” or “Dial” and speak the number. For instance, “Call 123-4567.
– You can also ask it to play music. For instance “Play album” or “Play Artist” and name the artist or album. This was a bit hit or miss for us. Sometimes it doesn’t understand a band or album name.
– You can also ask iOS about the song that is playing. If you like the current track, simply say “What song is this” and iOS will tell you the song and the artist. The song will continue from there (when activating voice commands, it stops briefly so that you can speak into it).
– Say “No” or “Nope.” iOS understands no commands pretty easily. If it understands the wrong name, you can quickly say “no” and it will cancel the operation.
– “What Time is it” will have the iPhone tell you the time. We’re not sure if it’s entirely useful since once tap of the Home Button will bring up the time in big numbers.
Voice Controls Still Need Some Refining
The built-in iOS voice controls are far from optimal. As we said, they sometimes give us trouble. They also don’t do much. All voice control functions seem limited to making phone calls (iPhone-only, obviously) or iPod controls. There is no App launcher or search or anything of the sort. Perhaps things will improve. For now, no such luck.