iPhone Voice Control quirks

Posted by Jonathan on Jul 6, 2009 in iPhone |

Voice Control on the iPhone 3GS is a godsend for those times when you can’t look at the screen.  Hold down the “home” button for a couple of seconds (even if the phone is locked) and Voice Control is activated.  You hear two quick tones, and then you speak your command.  You do not have to train it with your own voice.  It just works.

Yes, it will dial from your address book (“Call John Smith”) and lets you specify a particular number to call (“Call Sally Gravapolis mobile”).  You can also speak the number.

Voice Control also operates the iPod, and here is where the weirdness starts.  You can play a playlist (“Play playlist Mellow Hits”) and play songs by a particular artist (“Play songs by Beck”) or on a particular album (“Play album Let It Bleed”).  You can pause (by saying “pause”) and play (by saying “play”) but voice control does not understand “stop.”

And you can’t play a particular song (“Play Bitch,” “Play song Bitch,” and “Play song Bitch by the Rolling Stones” all fail).  If you say something that sounds remotely like a valid command, Voice Control runs with it.  ”Play Operator by Jim Croce” resulted in playing songs by Weird Al Yankovich.

Also, despite the new Voice Memos app included with version 3.0 of the iPhone OS, you cannot created a voice memo using Voice Control.  At first blush, this seems like a glaring omission.  Clearly, Voice Control can pass commands to other apps; otherwise, the phone dialing and iPod controls would not work.  On the other hand, it is possible that the receiving app has to be one that Apple allows to run all the time, such as the Phone and iPod apps.

Voice Control apparently can’t be turned off and even if you have set a PIN, it will do what it is commanded by whoever commands it.  Some might call this a security hole, but the worst thing I can think of someone doing is running down your battery or prank calling your boss, imitating your voice and telling him where to stick it.  What’s the harm in that?

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