Siri received a magnificent boost in iOS with faster understanding and greatly improved comprehension, but a lesser obvious option was also added; the ability to summon Siri with just your voice. With this “Hey Siri” feature enabled, Siri will be actively listening and waiting for your commands, but only whenever the iPhone or iPad is connected to a power source. This enables a true hands-free experience with Siri and iOS and is well worth trying out.
This obviously requires iOS 8 or later and a device that supports Siri to begin with, which is just about any modern iPhone or iPad.
How to Enable “Hey Siri” Voice Commands with iPhone
Let’s enable this hands-free feature, called “Hey Siri”, which is tucked away quietly in Siri Settings on iOS:
- Open the Settings app and head to “General”, then go to “Siri”
- Flip the switch alongside “Allow Hey Siri” to the ON position
Now you’re ready to try it out yourself. Connect the iPhone or iPad to a power source with the lightning cable, and then just say “Hey Siri” followed by a command like “Hey Siri what is the weather in San Francisco?”.
You can also say “Hey Siri”, wait for the familiar ‘ding’ chime, and then issue a request or command too. Every Siri command is available to use this way, whether the productive and useful tricks or the funny ones, all requests are valid so long as they don’t require interaction with the touch screen for entering a passcode or to perform a similar task.
This works incredibly well, and is a fantastic feature for nearly everyone, whether for accessibility purposes, or for those of us who like to do iPhone tasks hands-free whenever possible. In testing, I was easily able to trigger the Hey Siri command from across the room, and it even picks up your commands from another room if you’re loud enough. Background noise is well ignored, and the Hey Siri prompt works in a car while listening to music at a moderately tolerable volume level as well (hopefully nobody makes a song where ‘Hey Siri’ is the chorus, that would really throw this great feature off).
Here’s where the Hey Siri feature really shines; when your iPhone or iPad is plugged into a power source, say on your desk, connected to a car charger while driving, or while charging on your night stand, you can simply say “Hey Siri” and issue a request or command. Siri does her thing and lets you know, without any sort of physical interaction with the iOS device. No more pressing Home buttons and waiting, saying “Hey Siri” is enough. Once you get accustomed to this, you’ll find you can unload a lot of basic tasks onto Siri as a completely hands-free assistant, even while you’re doing other stuff. Make a phone call in the car without ever looking at your screen or touching the iPhone, get the weather report from your iPad without your fingers leaving your desktop keyboard, or tell Siri to stop the alarm clock from across the room, use your imagination, it’s really quite handy.
Just remember that the iOS device with Siri must be plugged into a power source for this feature to work, if you’re out and about or not plugged in to a wall or computer, Siri won’t be listening for a command request.