Siri doesn’t reply verbally to questions and commands when using Apple TV, but there is a workaround for those who want to hear Siri speak to them.
Apple TV owners may wonder why Siri responds visually rather than speaking. When using an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad, the first choice is a verbal reply, though some additional information is usually presented on-screen as well. However, hearing a virtual assistant can humanize the experience, and that was the very reason Apple chose Siri to begin with.
Siri was actually a project of SRI International, but Apple then bought the app and integrated it into iOS, macOS, iPadOS and watchOS. Siri even exists on Apple audio devices like the HomePod, HomePod mini and AirPods, as they use the same operating system as other Apple devices. This was initially iOS, but Apple is understood to have recently switched the HomePod to run on tvOS, like Apple TV.
On every Apple device except one, Siri defaults to speaking replies out loud. On Apple TV, Siri remains silent unless specifically set to speak. In reality, the response from Siri is exactly the same, other than it shows visually on the TV screen. Apple explains that the reason for this is so Siri won’t interrupt the audio in the movie, TV show, or video that is being watched. However, when not in playback mode, it would have been nice to have Siri verbalize as well as display information on the screen. This is the behavior on the iPhone and every other Apple device that has Siri, resulting in a slightly odd decision and one that runs counter to the personal feeling that Siri interaction is supposed to provide.
How To Force Siri To Speak
When using an Apple TV Siri won’t speak through the connected television, but there is a way to force Siri to speak. This is made possible through an accessibility feature that Apple calls VoiceOver. It should be noted that this feature is designed to aid those with visual impairments and as a result, Siri will speak more information than usual. For example, when browsing movies, the row and column of a grid display will be spoken. Due to this, it isn’t an ideal solution unless the user has a need for this description to aid use of the device in general.
VoiceOver is located in Settings within the Accessibility section. For those that don’t need to keep it on full time, Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K have a quick toggle method by triple clicking the Menu button on the remote. Another way to activate VoiceOver is to hold the Siri button and say ‘Turn VoiceOver on.’ The same action can also be used to switch VoiceOver as well. Apple usually doesn’t explain why it makes user interface design decisions, but muting Siri certainly seems like a missed opportunity to make an Apple TV player more friendly.
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