For me, one of the most exciting features of Siri on the iPhone was the ability for the phone to read back to you your text messages. The introduction ad that Apple released where they showed a runner instructing Siri to read back to him a new text message won me over. I felt like Siri was the first step into the next stage of computer assistance.
Unfortunately, when I first got my iPhone 4s it wasn’t as easy to get Siri to read back to me. I asked a number of different ways to have Siri read me a message but she just kept telling me that I didn’t have any messages. I gave up on the idea until recently. I stumbled across the original add again and noticed that Siri only read back messages to iPhone users when they received a new message. I quickly grabbed my wife’s iPhone, sent myself a text and when received it I asked Siri to read the new message.
Siri replied differently than she had in the past, letting me know that I had received a new message. She didn’t tell me who it was from or what it said but invited me again to ask her to read it to me or if I wanted to reply. This double request seems like a bug, or something Apple’s quality control team didn’t test thoroughly. But after asking Siri the second time to read me the new message, she replied with details on who sent it and what was said.
So Siri CAN read to you!
I then thought, if Siri can read my text messages, why can’t I get her to read entire web pages, email, or other text I come across on the iPhone. I remembered that when Apple included Siri functionality in Mountain Lion it included an option to instruct the new OS to have Siri read back to you. This feature had to be somewhere in iOS 6 as well.
After a bit of investigating in the settings app I discovered how to make your iPhone 4s or iPhone 5 read to you!
How to Make Siri Read Text To You
If you’d like Siri to read back to you web pages, email, or other text on your iPhone than follow the steps below to “enable” this great feature.
- Open the Settings app and select the General Option.
- Next, scroll down and select the Accessibility option
- Find “Speak Selection” option and turn it on
- Feel free to change the dialect of Siri if you’re not comfortable with the North American accent
- Head over to a website or email and select a portion of the text you’d like Siri to read back to you
- Press the new Speak Button and Siri will start reading
Overall, this has been extremely effective and helpful for when I’m trying to do too many things at once and would prefer Siri reading me the context of an article or a email. You can also stop her from reading by selecting the same text and clicking “Pause” from the options displayed.
Having Siri read your text, emails, and other content is a huge time saver and I believe, still the first step towards the next generation of human-computer interaction.