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Apple TV provides limited Siri functionality. By default, Siri is silent on Apple TV. This article explains how to make Siri talk on Apple TV.
Siri is Apple’s personal digital assistant. Debuting in late 2011, it was the first sophisticated voice activated technology. Siri has since made its way into just about every Apple device. I use Siri just about every day, especially to control my Apple TV.
Some feel that Siri is lagging behind its competitors. The truth is, it’s easy to create a contrived situation where one digital assistant performs better than another. They’re different, not necessarily better or worse. Siri excels at operating devices and handling complex cases for a few domains. It’s not as good at answering general queries, but it can handle the most common requests.
Siri for Apple TV is Limited
Although Siri’s brain lives in the data center, each device needs specific hooks that Siri can operate. For this reason, Siri is significantly different across Apple devices. Siri for Apple TV is primarily used for operating the device. Users can change settings, search for movies, music and TV shows and query data from a limited domain. Siri for Apple TV is specialized for entertainment related tasks.
Since Apple TV doesn’t have a browser or the WebKit API, Siri for Apple TV can’t search the web. Apple’s personal digital assistant can look up certain information. Users can query entertainment, sports, stock and weather related subjects, with excellent results. Siri can display movies and TV shows featuring your favorite actors or genres. Asking for the latest sports scores or stats presents results in a refined and intuitive user interface. Often, swiping up on the Siri Remote’s Touch surface displays a screen full of detailed information. You can even ask Siri what the weather is like, and you’ll see the daily or weekly forecast. Ask Siri how the stock market is doing today, and you’ll see the DOW, NASDAQ and S&P 500. You can even ask Siri about individual stocks and swipe up to see a detailed chart.
Siri can’t do everything on Apple TV. You can’t set a timer, alarm or reminder using Siri. Certain commands that should work, don’t work. Asking Siri to show the Screensaver will display the Settings app. Siri protests that it “can’t search the web here” if you ask to show the Home screen. All of these features are actually easier to launch from the Siri Remote’s buttons. As with Siri in general, it does a limited set of tasks very well. Users can communicate with Siri using a variety of phrases and natural language. This isn’t true of all personal digital assistants. Ask Siri “what did s/he say?” while watching a video and it will turn on subtitles and skip back 15 seconds. Siri for Apple TV is focused on enriching the television viewing experience, and it does this well.
Siri is Silent on Apple TV
Unlike its iOS counterpart, Siri is noticeably quiet on Apple TV, for good reason. If you’re watching TV, you typically don’t want Siri to be talking over the program. By design, Siri doesn’t speak on Apple TV. If you ask Siri “why don’t you talk” it will reply that no one “likes a Chatty McChatterson when there’s a show on”. Most people would agree. That said, you can actually make Siri speak by taking advantage of Apple TV’s accessibility features. Let’s take a look at how to do this.
Turn on VoiceOver to Make Siri Talk
As with all Apple products, Apple TV offers a wide array of Accessibility features. These features are most commonly used to accommodate people with disabilities. Many of these options are useful for just about anyone.
VoiceOver is an Accessibility feature that speaks the contents of a visual user interface. It is intended for use by people with visual disabilities, however, it also gives Siri a voice. You can turn on VoiceOver by holding down the Siri (microphone) button on your remote and saying “turn on VoiceOver”. The feature can be turned off by telling Siri to “turn off VoiceOver”. Alternatively, you can toggle VoiceOver by clicking on Settings > General > Accessibility. next page →