Smartphones - so convenient!

Voice command software on smartphones is often laughed off as clumsy, hard to use and not much more than a novelty. Nonsense! That’s just people who haven’t figured out how to properly use it – okay, let’s face it, that’s most of us! It’s going to feel weird chatting with a robot at first but once you make that robot your very special personal servant, it’ll open up a whole new world of convenience and efficiency. You might be surprised to learn that some of the most valuable functions don’t involve calling people or sending text message via voice remote. Using hands free controls can also enhance safety when driving. Heading under the microscope here are the two big ‘bots in the smartphone voice command world, Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S Voice. These run on the most recent of their respective iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones.

Samsung's Voice

Get started On your home screen, quickly double tap the home key (or select Apps, then S-Voice). If you then want to the activate S Voice’s highly useful Driving Mode, simply say “Driving Mode On”. Once you’re in Driving Mode, you use a wake-up phrase to engage the program. You can set your own or use the standard “Hi Galaxy” followed by your next voice command you wish it to implement.

Basic voice commands

“Call [insert name] “Check missed calls” “Check text messages” “Read email” “Schedule event [insert information]” “Add memo” “Navigate” “Record my voice” “Navigate to [insert destination] Ask any questions you like – simple things like “how the weather?” or “how’s traffic” are very useful.

Auto responses in Driving Mode

Incoming call: S Voice will read out the caller's information when receiving an incoming call. Message: S Voice will read out the message sender's information when receiving a new incoming message. Alarm: S Voice will read out alarm information when an alarm sounds. Schedule: S Voice will read out calendar event information when a calendar notification sounds.

The really awesome stuff

Drive me home

The Drive Me Home feature is a classic. Whether you’re the driver or simply a passenger, your phone knows how to get you home ASAP. To set it up, Touch Menu > Settings > Home address. Enter your home address and then any time you shout “Drive me home!” at your phone, you’re on your way.


When activated you can stop or snooze alarms with the voice commands “Stop” and “Snooze.”

Camera control

No longer hunt around for a friendly stranger to take that happy snap at the family picnic. To activate your camera you can use voice commands like "Capture," "Shoot," "Smile" and "Cheese."

Music control

You can control the Music Player in Driving Mode with the voice commands "Next," "Previous," "Play," "Pause," "Volume up," and "Volume down."

Update your social networks

S Voice can be integrated with Facebook and Twitter. Once you’ve activated S Voice within the individual app settings, you’re ready to roll. Your commands are then as follows: “Twitter update, [insert your update]” “Facebook update [insert your update]”

Apple Siri

Get started

Hold down the “home” button, Siri will ask, “what can I help you with?”. You can also tap the small information button on the right hand side for a list of suggestions for what Siri can do for you.

The Basics

Siri works in series of steps that makes you feel like you’re in conversation with your iPhone at times. That said, one voice command leads to another and it becomes very instinctual.

“Call [insert name]”

“Text  [Insert name] [your message]”

“Email [Insert name] about [your message title] [message]”

“Search the web for [insert subject]”

“Set up a meeting for [date] [time]”

“Remind me to call [insert name]”

“Read my latest email”

“Read text message”

“Set alarm”

“Write a note”

“Give me directions to [address]

The really awesome stuff

Open apps with ease

Simply say “open Angry Birds” and save yourself all that sideswiping and looking around.

Change settings

“Turn on bluetooth”, “Turn off airplane mode” and “turn on wifi” are available and useful commands.

Post directly to Facebook and Twitter

Siri is happy to take down your latest status, comment or location and post directly to your account.

Get a relationship happening

Teach Siri who people are. For example if you say John Smith is my father, Siri will remember to info and next time you say “call my father” you’ve got a direct line to John Smith. You can also say things like, “Mr Pizzaman is my favourite restaurant” (as long is the info is stored in your contacts) and then you can rattle things off like “call my favourite restaurant”.

Get around hard to pronounce names

Siri is by no means a genius at deciphering hard to pronounce names. That said you can get around this by entering shortened names into the nickname field in your contacts. Stephen Spielberg can become Steve S and Siri will have no trouble dialling him up.

Make it sing

Just ask Siri to play a song that you’ve downloaded into your iTunes music library. Just say “Play Enter Sandman” and it’ll happen.

Cruise the net

Get Siri to cruise the net for you. For example ask, “what are people saying about the Academy Awards ceremony and Siri will spit out the latest news items on the topic.

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