Siri Commands for Apple TV 4

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“turn on [language] subtitles” – Turns on subtitles for the video, if available. Specifying the language is optional, as Siri will default to the language configured in Settings.

“turn on closed captioning” – Siri will activate closed captioning.

“who directed this” – Siri displays the name of the director, if available.

“who stars in this” – An interactive list of actors with photos is displayed at the bottom of the screen. Use the trackpad to select and click on an actor. This will display more information about the actor, including a brief biography and related movies and TV shows. Press the Menu button on the Siri remote to dismiss the info panels.

“when was this [movie/TV show] released” – Siri displays the release date of the movie or TV show.

Siri Commands for Music Playback

The Music app plays iTunes purchases and Apple Music. Siri can control some features of Apple TV’s stock music app. You can initiate these commands just about anywhere in tvOS. If you are in an app, Siri may prompt you to open the Music app using an on-screen link.

Unfortunately, Siri’s music capabilities leave something to be desired. Asking questions such as “who wrote this song” or “when was this album released” do not provide a useful response. If you ask Siri to “play the top song in 2000”, it will only display this information. Siri cannot find more music by the currently playing artist. At best, you can select music and control playback using Apple’s personal digital assistant.

“play music” – Siri will shuffle and play all songs in your iTunes music library.

“play [genre/artist/playlist/album/song]” – The specified music selection is played.

“play [iTunes/Beats 1/genre/artist/album/song] radio” – Siri will play the requested radio station if you subscribe to Apple Music. Beats 1 is free and available without an Apple Music subscription.

“shuffle [genre/artist/playlist/album/song]” – Siri will shuffle and play the specified music selection.

“play [next/previous] song” – The next or previous song in the playlist will start playing.

“skip [back/forward] [minutes/seconds]” – Playback skips forward or backward by the specified time.

“start from beginning” – The song will start from the beginning.

“pause” – Music playback is paused.

“play” or “resume” – Paused music is restarted.

Siri Will Get Better

The fourth generation Apple TV was a massive overhaul over previous models. Apple had to catch up with competitors who were already offering personal digital assistants in their TV appliances. Although Apple had a few years to release this new model, it is still a little rough around the edges. Siri is no exception. It is far more capable on an iPhone than on Apple TV. This will, without a doubt, change over time. Apple is currently working with partners to make their content searchable with Siri. More commands will be added and Siri will get better at recognizing speech.

Despite its flaws, I find Siri to be quite useful. I use it all the time to turn on subtitles, control playback and turn on the Reduce Loud Sounds feature. I look forward to Siri’s evolution and refinement over time. It would be great if Siri could schedule reminders, set alarms, take notes, schedule calendar events and do other productivity features. Apple will first need to develop these apps for tvOS. For now, I will just have to keep my iPhone nearby.

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  1. Hello, when you say

    “shuffle [genre/artist/playlist/album/song]” – Siri will shuffle and play the specified music selection.”

    how come it actually doesn’t? I just updated the (new) AppleTV software (auto software update doesn’t work, apparently), but when I’m in my music “shuffle ambient” starts something totally else playing. Any ideas?

    1. I tried it with rock and jazz, and it worked. It could very well be a defect with Siri. This is a problem in other areas. For example, if I request Siri to “show me something in music”, it cannot fulfill the request, even though “music” is a category of TV shows and Movies. Certain stock tickers don’t work either. Hopefully they will fix it soon.

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