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Raise to Speak Makes Siri Wonderfully Useful (Once You Know How to Use It)

Raise to Speak is a way to summon Siri without having to press any buttons. If the feature isn’t already activated, you can head to Settings -> General -> Siri and make sure that Raise to Speak is toggled ON.

When activated, you’ll be able to raise your phone to your ear, wait for a beep, and then speak to Siri, just as if you’d held down the Home button to summon her. If you’re in an app, on the lock screen, or on your home screen, you’ll be able to speak commands. However, if you’re already in an app and have the keyboard active, then raise to speak will simply activate dictation.

The only major issue with this feature is actually activating it. Surprisingly enough, it takes a little bit of practice. Raise to Speak works using a combination of the accelerometer and the facial proximity sensor to figure out when it should activate, and so the most reliable way to get the feature to work is to act as though you’re answering a call. Bring your phone up, press it right up against your cheek, and make sure the phone is tilted, almost horizontally. When done right, you should hear a double beep (or a single beep for plain text-to-speech dictation), which is your prompt to begin bossing Siri around.

I though that this feature was buggy in iOS 5, and it took me until iOS 6 to realize how to get it to work reliably. However, now that I’m used to it, Raise to Speak is now my favourite way of invoking Siri. It feels natural to read my latest in the Messages app and simply raise my phone to my ear to dictate my response – much more so than holding down the Home button and dictating to my phone from afar. I’d also argue that Raise to Speak is the only way to use Siri in public without feeling totally awkward. Dictating text with your phone up against your ear looks more like a staccato phone conversation than terribly obvious usage of text-to-speech software.

So if you’ve been looking for ways to take more advantage of Siri – especially with all of the new movie, mapping, and sports capabilities present in iOS 6 – give Raise to Speak a shot!

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  • Maxwell Appleton

    I’m on 5.x. I’ve mucked with this for ages. Still cannot get it to work. Mind you, I’m using Siri on a iPhone 4. Maybe thats why…

  • I agree! Raise to speak is such a useful way to interact with a voice-powered app that we’re using it in Talkler — Email for your ears. (Talkler is the FREE smartphone app for heads-up, hands-off, reads-aloud-to-you, voice-controlled email.) Raise to speak has become my favorite way to hear my email read aloud to me. (Though we call it Raise-to-Ear or Privacy Mode.) I hope you’ll give it a shot on Talkler, too! – Jeff –


    Raise-to-Speak is great! It works really well every time – the trick is to know that the starting position of the phone matters – it needs to be held with the screen facing upward (not facing completely sideways). That’s it!

  • jhrogersii

    It was a smart move by Apple to include this feature. Having the phone up to your ear while talking is much more palatable to people because it is more socially acceptable. The concept of talking to your mobile device has been around for quite a while now (I had MS Voice Command on Windows Mobile in 2005), but it has only been a mainstream concept for a couple of years. People are still adjusting, and having Siri instantly chime in when you lift the phone to your ear is more comfortable and familiar.

    Since I have been using Bluetooth headsets for 6 or more years now, I am used to people looking at me like I’m crazy. Now that more people use them, it’s a little better, but some people still think I’m a crazy person talking to myself. It doesn’t bother me anymore, so talking to Siri either through my headset, or directly into the mic on the bottom in louder places, don’t either.