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15 Most Useful iPhone & Android Voice Commands

by Fox Van Allen on April 14, 2016

Couple using iPhone voice commandsI’ll be honest: Even though I’m supposed to be a technology expert, I’ve long resisted using Siri and my smartphone’s voice commands. For the longest time, voice recognition on phones just wasn’t that good. All the errors were frustrating and often seemed to eat up more time than just typing in commands and opening up apps manually.

These days, though, I’ve found myself using Siri more often. Speech recognition has gotten a lot better, and Siri has gotten a lot smarter and more powerful. You can do virtually anything via your phone’s voice commands, from posting to Twitter to finding the best pizza pie to figuring out just how deep 20,000 leagues really is.

Not sure how to get the most out of your phone just by speaking to it? No worries – those of us here at Techlicious have put together this guide of the 15 most useful phone voice commands for iOS and Android. Take a look and give some of these a try – I really can’t rave enough about how useful and easy these commands are.

How Voice Commands Work

In general, Apple iPhone owners will want to issue voice commands through Siri (hold the home button); Google Android users should use Google Now (via the Google app) and tap the microphone icon. You can place a Google app widget on your home screen or, if your Android phone has a home key button, download the Home2 Shortcut app (free on Google Play) and configure your home button to launch Google Now with a double tap (Samsung owners may have to go to S Voice > Menu > Settings, and uncheck the second option to launch with the Home button.). iPhone owners can also download and use Google Now via the Google app for voice commands too, but Siri is more convenient.

Most commands can be issued in plain English, as if you were asking your friend to do something for you. Want to make a phone call? Then access Siri or Google Now and tell your phone you want to make a phone call. If your phone needs more information, it’ll ask for it.

And, if you want to use nicknames, like mom, in your commands, you can establish relationships. On iOS devices, you can simply open Siri and say "my mother is 'Jane Smith'." Or, when you edit a contact, scroll down to Related Name and hit the +. The first, and default, relationship is mother. If you tap on mother, though, you'll see a list, including father, assistant and brother among other. You can also create a Custom Label. 

On Android devices, you can tap the microphone icon in the Google search box and say "my mother is 'Jane Smith'." 

Make a call

Okay, so we’ve already covered the basics – to make a hands free call, tell your phone you want to make a call. You can tell your phone to call a specific contact (“call Dr. Leo Spaceman,” “call mom”) or dial a specific number (“call 800-555-1234”). If you have multiple numbers for a contact in your phone, you can specify which you’d like to call: “call mom mobile” or “call mom home.” Easy!

Sending a text via voice command on iOSSend a text

If you tell your phone to text a contact, it will follow up step-by-step by asking who and what you’d like to text. Or, you can just get it all out at once by saying, “text Dan, Did the contractor arrive yet?” Don’t worry if you flub a word or two – you’ll be able to correct your message if you mess something up (or if your phone mishears). You can add punctuation to your text by dictating it – just say “comma,” “period,” “exclamation mark” and the like when you want one entered into your message.

Send an email

Sending an email is simple, too – just tell your phone you’d like to send an email. It will follow up by prompting you for the recipient, subject and body in a step-by-step manner. Or, to save some time, give all the information to your phone at once: “email Anne, subject: Meeting, message: Can we reschedule our meeting for 3PM?” Note that for this to work smoothly, you’ll need to save people’s email addresses in your phone’s contacts.

Set a timer/alarm

Once you learn to set timers on your phone, you’ll never burn the roast again. Just tell your phone to “set a timer for 20 minutes,” and the countdown will start immediately. Or, you can request to set an alarm for a specific time in the next 24 hours instead – say “set alarm for 1PM.” If you’d like to set an alert further in the future than that, you’ll need to set it up as a reminder instead.

Google Now reminderSet a reminder based on place or time

Want your phone to remind you to call your mother when you get home from work? You can tell your phone to “add reminder to call mom when I get home” and it’ll add the item to your list. The reminder will trigger for any address you have set up in your address book, including your home address. You can also add a specific date and time to the reminder – “add reminder to buy milk tomorrow at 5PM.”

Schedule a calendar entry

You can add an event to your calendar simply by giving your phone information about it. Say, “schedule meeting with Anne for 3PM” or “add trip to Canada to calendar for June 18 at 8AM” and your phone will know what to do. If you don’t provide enough information, as always, your phone will prompt you for more.

Launch an app

Don’t know where you misplaced your favorite app, or simply want to launch Google Maps without searching for it? Just tell your phone to “launch [app name here],” and your phone will quickly obey.

Siri Voice Activated sports score (NJ Devils)Get sports scores and stats

Are you out and about, missing the game? Just ask your phone how it's going – for example, “what’s the New Jersey Devils’ score” – and it’ll tell you the results of the current or most recent game. (Good news! They won 3 to 1 on Saturday!) You can also ask for statistics like “what’s the New Jersey Devils’ record?” or “how many passing yards did Tom Brady have last season?”

Play music

To play a song that you’ve downloaded to your phone, just ask your device to play it, e.g., “play Edge of Seventeen.” You can also request your phone play a specific artist, album or playlist by name.

ID a song that’s playing

Have you ever wanted to know the name of a great new song playing over the radio or the speakers at the gym? Simply ask your phone “What’s this song?” and point the receiver end toward the source. If the song is loud and clear enough for your phone to hear, it’ll be able to identify its name, artist and more.

Get movie show times

You can ask your phone, “what movies are playing near me tomorrow at 2PM?” to get a list of films, parental guidance ratings, reviews and times that meet your query at nearby theaters. You can also search for specific movies, specific actors or simply for “best rated movies playing near me.”

Post to social media

If you’ve chosen to integrate your phone with your Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus accounts, it’s an absolute breeze to post to social media via voice commands. Just tell your phone to “post to Facebook” and then the message you’d like to share as a status update. You can even ask your phone to tell you what’s trending on Twitter.

Voice activated weather forecast on iOSCheck the weather conditions anywhere

If you request the weather forecast, your phone will tell you current and future conditions based on your current GPS location. Or, you can ask how the weather is in Las Vegas, Paris, or Istanbul. And if you’re as worried about the next cold snap and snowfall as those of us in the Northeast are, you can ask your phone “Is snow in the forecast for this week?” or “Is it windy right now?”

Search the web

Sure, you already know to get all your technology news and reviews here on Techlicious. But if you need to access content elsewhere on the web, just ask Siri or Google to perform a web search for you. “Search the web for delicious candy,” Siri! Hurry! I’m hungry. If you want to use Google search on your iPhone, you'll need to say "Google for delicious candy."

Get the answer to virtually any question

Who’s the governor of Utah? How tall is the Statue of Liberty? How many inches are in 20 centimeters? Your phone can answer all these fact-based queries and more – all you need to do is ask your question in plain English. If your phone can't determine the exact answer, it will search the web for you to help find an answer. You can even ask, “What does the Fox say?” This is a really powerful feature, so give it a try! 

Updated on 4/14/2015 with relationship information

[Couple using smartphone mic via Shutterstock]


Time Savers, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Tips & How-Tos

Discussion loading


From Diane Lipka on February 23, 2015 :: 1:53 pm

I tried to have Siri read incoming text while I was driving, but I had to unlock my phone first. Is there a way to tell it to unlock by giving your 4 digit code?



From Suzanne Kantra on February 23, 2015 :: 6:32 pm

Yes, you can access Siri when the phone is locked. If you go into Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > and scroll down to Allow Access When Locked, you can choose to enable Siri when your phone is locked.



From Diane Lipka on February 23, 2015 :: 6:54 pm

Thanks, but I do have Siri enabled to allow access when locked?  I have IPhone 5s with latest IOS 8.1.3.  Do I have to do something else?



From Suzanne Kantra on February 23, 2015 :: 7:51 pm

Yes. You need both enable Siri (Settings > General > Siri) as well as enable Siri to be used while the phone is locked, as I outline above.


From flordeliza on January 18, 2021 :: 12:56 am

hello good day! please help me on how to open my phone. its commanding in double top. tnx



From Diane Lipka on February 23, 2015 :: 8:06 pm

I tried to include a screenshot, but that didn’t work.

This is what I have:
Settings Touch ID & Passcode

Allow Access When Locked
Today Off
Notifications View On
Siri on
Passbook off
Reply with message on
Erase Data off

What am I missing from your instructions?

Thank you!



From Suzanne Kantra on February 23, 2015 :: 8:12 pm

If you already have Siri enabled under general settings, you should be good to go. I just retried it with my iPhone 6. When your phone is locked, press and hold the home button and you’ll get the usual Siri prompt.



From hassan sajan on October 28, 2016 :: 12:16 am

I want full voice control as am talking with my gf



From Diane Lipka on February 23, 2015 :: 9:01 pm

Must be something to do with 5S because I do have Siri enabled and settings as I sent to you.  Tried reading texts and sending email - have to input code.  The case I have doesn’t let me use the finger touch. I’ll trying disabling that and see what happens.



From Billy on February 26, 2015 :: 10:55 am

Kudos on the 30 Rock reference!



From djhp on September 28, 2015 :: 9:23 pm

Is there a way on apple or android to store the answers to the questions that you ask?  How about a way to just make a list or create a note? On android can you change the command that is used to launch google now or are you stuck with “Ok google”?



From Josh Kirschner on September 29, 2015 :: 12:01 am

You can have Android make a note by telling Google to “make a note”. I t will then let you create a note and automatically email it to yourself.

You are stuck with “Ok Google” as the launch command, but there are workarounds using third-party apps. I don’t recommend you go this route, because of potential impact on your battery, but here’s an article if you’re interested in learning more:



From Mary-Reid Savoca on January 15, 2016 :: 3:33 pm

I smashed 1/3 of my iphone screen so now only 2/3 of the screen works, and I can’t unlock my phone. Is there a way to unlock just using Siri?



From Tim Berty on May 06, 2016 :: 10:24 am

I have tried to call a person, call a number, send a text message, launch an app and search on Google . Everything is worked well.

I have not tried other commands yet. Let try it smile



From Akshay Tyagi Ji on July 10, 2016 :: 12:01 pm

Help me can i download this app in android



From Debra Scruggs on December 18, 2016 :: 6:03 pm

my hands are paralyzeed and I am trying to find a cell phone or landline I can utilize without having to touch it to turn it on. I have to be able to turn it on using my voice. I know that such a thing exists. But I cannot find one to purchase. I figured if anyone would be able to know about this, it would be you. Please advise.



From Fik of Borg on December 30, 2016 :: 4:20 pm

If I understand you correctly, the Moto Voice app included in medium to high Motorola phones does just that.
I believe those phones include a low power processor only to listen continuosly for the customizable activation phrase even while off, and recognize a lot of commands upon detection. I’m not affiliated with Motorola, I just have a Motorola phone.
Maybe iPhone’s Siri can do it too (I don’t know, I don’t own an IPhone)



From leslie roach on November 21, 2017 :: 9:57 pm

Can you use voice commands on the moto G5s phone for answering or texting? Or do I have to download an app for such. Please help



From Fik of Borg on November 22, 2017 :: 7:41 am

At least my “old” Moto X Pure does, Leslie. It uses the stock app MotoVoice.

When the phone senses I’m driving or I’m at home, it yells “Incoming call from such and such, say ‘answer’ to pick up”, or “Incoming message from such and such. Such and auch said ‘bla bla bla’, say ‘answer’ to text back”.
In neither case I have to touch the phone, it even hears me from an adjoining room if there is not much noise.

Don’t know about the G5s, though. It should, it is 2 years newer than mine!


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