Daily tip: How to use Voice Control on your iPhone

Curious how to use your voice to dial or control your iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS? Apple has built Voice Control right into the phone and while it's still limited in functionality, it's very easy to use. We'll show you how after the break.

Voice Controls Tip Screen

To activate Voice Control on your iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS just press and hold the Home Button (or the middle button on your headphones or Bluetooth headset if you're using any). When you you hear a beep and the Voice Control UI appears on the screen, speak your command. Available commands include:

  • Dial [Number]
  • Dial [Contact Name] [Work, Home, Mobile, iPhone, etc.]
  • Call [Contact Name] [Work, Home, Mobile, iPhone, etc.]
  • FaceTime [Contact Name] [Work, Home, Mobile, iPhone, etc.] (iPhone 4 only)

  • Play Music

  • Play Playlist [Playlist Name]
  • Play Album [Album Name]
  • Play Artist [Artist Name]
  • Pause
  • Next Song/Track
  • Previous Song/Track
  • Shuffle
  • Genius/Play More Songs Like This
  • What's Currently Playing? What Song Is This? Who's Singing This?

  • What Time Is It?

  • Stop
  • Help

So, for example, you could say:

  • Call mom, home
  • Dial Steve Jobs, mobile
  • Play music, the Beatles

If you've made a mistake and the iPhone has recognised it wrong, it will ask you to clarify.

  • Call Steven Jobs, Home

  • Call Steven Jobs, Mobile, work, or Home?

You can say "No, Not That One, Wrong" or anything else of that nature that feels natural, and it will go back.

Bonus tip: The music and miscellaneous commands (everything that doesn't involve a phone call) also works on the 3rd and 4th generation iPod touch. (Though strangely not the iPad...?)

Voice Control works no matter where you are in the iPhone, Home Screen or app, and even when you're iPhone is locked. Now just imagine if Apple adds system wide, Siri-powered Voice Control throughout iOS 5...!

I hope this helped you guys with the Voice Control feature on your device in case you didn't know what the controls were. Test it out now, by just holding the home button and if you have any questions, let me know in comments.

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you’d like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com. (If it’s especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we’ll even give ya a reward…)

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George Lim

Writer for iMore, YouTube Vlogger, and Host for [TEChBrits]

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Reader comments

Daily tip: How to use Voice Control on your iPhone


Hoping they can add a bigger vocabulary as the hardware improves. Would like to have "redial" and "podcast" become part of the vocabulary. Eventually, it should be able to deal with "open app" plus have a vocabulary associated with things like Pandora, TuneIn, iTunes, and other audio apps.

They need to fix the voice control security flaw. You can access voice controls without entering in your password.

Thanks for the list of commands. I hope they add more functionality to the voice control in the future.

@steve, this is something that you can choose to disable in the settings.... I work in retail, where people are constantly leaving their phones in the fitting room... so when I find an iPhone, the first thing I do is access the voice command, and say "call home" or "call mom" etc... its really useful seeing as you cant access anything too person without the password.

actually i was wondering about a couple of things ..
today was perfect timing for posting this

What I really would like to know is how to turn Voice Control off. More than once my BT headset have made calls because I apparently pressed the call button accidentally.

There are three flaws with Voice Control. 1) It rarely hears correctly 2) Even if it doesn't know what you say it guesses and 3) it calls people without confirming.
To recap, it doesn't know what you said but guesses anyway. Even if it guesses it doesn't check with you first.
A way to reconnect to old friends but all I wanted was to change the song...

Why would I ever want to press and hold the remote button for 3 seconds and say pause etc when I can just click the button once, twice or thrice?

I use voice control a lot in the US. While in Europe it was very hard to guess how to pronounce the names in order for voice control to recognize it. It also often does not get the cancel command when it chose the wrong number.
@robCal: It is essential to not need a password so that you can use Voice Control while driving without a lot of fiddling.

Dumbest thing I heard. So you would rather give up security to use it while driving?
You shouldn't be using your phone and driving!
If your phone gets stolen, I'll know that I don't have to worry about not being able to get in!