Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Handsfree and Siri

The state where I live in the US recently passed a handsfree law that limits the interaction users can have with their phone while driving to avoid driver distraction. Siri often gets the short shrift in the realm of robot assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant etc) though I have been using the "Hey Siri" function for a while now and have found it fairly reliable. There are a few tips for helping make Siri better for hands free operation that I thought others might find useful.

1) Train Siri Better: When you first set-up the Hey Siri it asks you to say “Hey Siri” a few times to train the system to recognize your voice. This used to not work well for me till I ran across this this article that referenced making sure you do this training with some distant between yourself and the phone. Once I retrained Siri’s recognition from across the room that has improved the pick up immensely when in the car. Siri now hears me over podcasts, music and the other ambient noise related to car trips rather well.

2) Better Data: The Contacts app on the iPhone doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention in the app world though this bedrock app is incalculably valuable for Siri. I highly recommend putting in as much data (home address, work address etc.) as possible into your contact card as this enables you to given Siri for detailed instructions (i.e. Hey Siri directions Home). A field that is particularly helpful is “Relationship”, which allows you to link your contact card to others in the contacts database with a relationship definition. For instance, I’ve linked my card to my wife’s with the “spouse” designator so I can say “Hey Siri, text my wife..” and the system will know who I am trying to text.

If you’re having trouble working with Hey Siri for handsfree communication while in the car I would highly recommend the above to help improve your experience. If anyone has any advice and/or tips or tricks for making Hey Siri more useful I’d love to hear in the comments below.