When Siri was released on the iPhone 4S I was excited about being able to use the personal assistant while traveling. My mobile office (a.k.a. Saturn Outlook) has a plethora of cords, cables, and speakers and having Siri read a text message from iMessage has been extremely convenient. So when I asked Siri to read me an email, I was startled by her response, “Sorry, I can’t do that Jay.”
That’s odd, I thought, I know I could get my 3GS to read my emails to me! You may be curious how. It’s an Accessibility setting called VoiceOver. So what I tried today is a possible way, though not perfect, to have emails read aloud.
Turn VoiceOver On
You can find the VoiceOver menu and toggle under the Settings > General > Accessibility menu. Instead of turning it on permanently, however, I recommend scrolling to the bottom of that Accessibility menu to Triple-click Home and set it to Toggle VoiceOver as a way to toggle it off and on.
What does it do?
VoiceOver is a tool used for those with impaired vision and who need to have the screen read to them. Once active, touch any item on the screen (say a paragraph in an email) and VoiceOver will read aloud, in Siri’s voice, what is boxed in on the screen. A single finger scroll to the right will move the box to the next paragraph which will be read aloud. A single finger flick to the left will move the box to a previous paragraph.
Putting it together on iPhone 4S
Once the Triple-click Home is set as the toggle to turn VoiceOver on and off, here’s how you can both read and reply to an email aloud:
- Activate Siri by press and holding the home button, then ask for emails, “Siri check email”
- When the new emails are displayed on the Siri screen, tap one to open the Mail app and go straight to that message
- Triple-click the Home button to toggle VoiceOver on
- Scroll through the paragraphs and have VoiceOver read the email aloud (one finger flick to the right for multiple paragraphs)
- Triple-click the Home button to toggle VoiceOver off
- Activate Siri and say Reply to compose a new email by dictating to Siri
There are additional instructions and settings for VoiceOver in the Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver menu (such as rate, pitch, etc.) to personalize this Siri twin to your liking.