Using Siri from a blind person's point of view

27/02/2018


As a blind iOS user, I am often asked how I use Siri, the iOS voice assistant which became part of the iPhone 4S and a permanent feature of iOS since then. To avoid confusion, Siri is different from Voiceover, as Voiceover is a fully functional screen reader package, and Siri is a Voice assistant, and is similar to the google assistant on Android. While each person will use their own device slightly differently than another, what follows are some ways that I use Siri, and I hope it might give you some additional options to get the best out of Siri on iOS, or TV OS for Apple TV.


What I do not do with Siri

Firstly I thought it would be a good idea to include just a few examples where I don’t use Siri, mainly from a security point of view, and again these are just my personal views on Siri and may differ from other users of Apple products. I don’t use ‘hey Siri’, and I don’t allow access on the lock screen. While a very useful feature to many, the ‘hey Siri’ option can be activated by another user other than the device owner, which is also why I don’t use Siri on the lock screen. If Siri is allowed access to the lock screen, it is possible for anyone to do anything with your device while it is locked, including adjusting your screen brightness, calling people in your address book, and changing basic settings like your access preferences. Of course someone may use Siri on the lock screen to help find the owner of a lost device, but I am hoping I never need this option, because there is always ‘find my iPhone’, and I guess I am just slightly paranoid about security anyway.


So how do I use Siri?

I sometimes use Siri to send off a quick message which I don’t mind anyone else hearing, so it could be that I use the dictation feature with Siri to remind my wife about an addition to our shopping list. I also use Siri to set a timer when preparing food, or to find a phone number of an organisation which is not in my contact list. Of course there is the old favourite, when I will ask Siri to call a contact for me, and sometimes I ask it to turn on or off Voiceover if my screen reader crashes.


I should add that I haven’t got round to using Siri on my Mac, as I am happy to use the existing commands available at this time with Voiceover. I do use Siri more on the Apple TV though, mainly to open menus, or search for programmes. As there is no ‘clock’ feature on Apple TV that I am aware of, I ask Siri for the time, and it will tell me. I do ask Siri for a quick weather update, and I get a very good description with a 5 day forecast. On Apple TV and iOS respectively, I also use Siri to play audio, and sometimes open apps. So I hope you have some additional tips for using Siri, enjoy and good luck.