by Joe Lonergan
Most Apple users are familiar with Apple’s virtual assistant Siri. Siri can be very useful for people with vision loss as you can perform tasks using your voice. Siri is available on iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS devices.
To activate Siri on an iPhone you can hold down the home key on the iPhone SE and previous models until you hear the audio tone and then make your request with your voice. On newer iPhones that do not have a home button, you can hold down the side button until you hear the audio tone and make your request.
Alternatively, for hands-free access, you can turn on Hey Siri.
To turn on Hey Siri go to Settings > Siri and Search.
Turn on Listen for Hey Siri.
When the Set up Hey Siri screen appears, tap continue.
Then follow the prompts to set up.
Siri will ask you to say a number of common phrases to learn your voice.
Tap done when finished.
You can perform hundreds of tasks with Siri and even more since the introduction of the Siri shortcuts app, but we are going to go through what we think are five of the most useful from a blind or low vision perspective.
1) Making Phone calls and sending text messages
Siri is good for making calls or sending quick texts.
Hey Siri, call John Smith.
Hey Siri, call my wife.
Hey Siri, text Mary, and then follow the prompts to send your message.
Hey Siri, send a WhatsApp message to John.
2) Identify your location with Siri
Sometimes when walking or traveling on public transport you might get lost. If you find yourself in this situation, try saying:
Hey Siri, where am I? Then Siri will announce your current location and address. Your coordinates will pop up on the screen and if required you can share your location with a friend by saying, Hey Siri, share my location with John, then John will receive a text message with a link that will open in Apple Maps so he can navigate to your location.
3) Turn on and off Settings on your iPhone with Siri
Sometimes it can be handy to toggle on or off some settings on your iPhone using Siri, no need to go into menus. Try saying:
Hey Siri, turn on Bluetooth
Hey Siri, turn off Mobile Data
Hey Siri, turn on Wi-Fi
4) Open Apps with Siri
Another handy feature that you can do with Siri is the ability to open apps.
Many of us have built up a lot of apps on our home screens at this stage and sometimes it can take time to find them on your iPhone, one of the easiest ways to open a specific app is to ask Siri, try saying:
Hey Siri, open WhatsApp
Hey Siri, open YouTube
Hey Siri, open Photos
5) Check the weather
Finally, one of the most popular things you can do with Siri is check the weather, try saying:
Hey Siri, what’s the weather like? Siri will follow up with a detailed forecast of the current weather conditions. You could follow up with Hey Siri, will it rain today? You can check the weather on a particular day over the next seven days in a specific location. Hey Siri, what is the weather going to be like on Sunday in Galway?