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What is the difference between Siri and Apple Voice Control


In autumn 2019 I first found out about the new Apple Voice Control feature.

I am a happy user of both an iPhone and an iPad and I have used some basic Siri commands and the simple dictation functionality both in English and in Dutch.

Although recognition rates were not bad, the fact that you could not even use a voice command to delete the last few words that you dictated annoyed the heck out of me. There was no real way to create a document by voice; for each little change you had to use the keyboard.

So when I read about Voice Control, I had no high expectations, to be honest.

I couldn’t have been more wrong!

So what is the difference between Siri and Voice Control?

Siri allows you to perform some functions of your Apple device by voice. But it is at the same time much more than that and very limited.

It is much more in the sense that you can ask Siri questions and it will answer you “What will the weather be like tomorrow?” And Siri will start talking back to, or show you the info on your screen. It uses artificial intelligence to help you in the way that an assistant would.

For controlling your device by voice, however, Siri is not ideal at all. While you can open an app by voice with Siri, e.g. “open mail” or return to the home screen by saying “go home”, you can’t just tap any button by voice. There is no way that you can use Siri to operate your entire device by voice commands.

The new Voice Control however, gives you pretty decent control over your entire device, whether it be an iPad, and iPhone or a Mac with iOS Catalina or higher.

You can open and close apps, swipe in any direction, perform gestures, tap/click on any icons and buttons and much more.

On the other hand, it does not tell you what the weather will be like.

So, even though both Siri and Voice Control react to your speech commands, they really are quite different features.

Fortunately, they don’t bite each other, you can have both active at the same time.

What is the difference between Voice Control and the old (keyboard) dictation?

It is a difference of night and day.

The dictation feature only allows you to dictate text, at least on the iPad and the iPhone, without offering any option to edit things by voice or add new vocabulary.

Dictation with the new Voice Control is a much richer experience. It is not exactly perfect, but it is getting there! I’m really impressed with the features and performance.

Not only can you dictate with really nice accuracy, but you can select and delete words and make edits in your texts by voice. You can also add new words to the vocabulary, which is an absolute must have for any serious dictation.

And the cool thing is that you can perform the entire operation of adding a new note and dictating it and then sharing it with someone entirely by voice. This has not been possible before.

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Janneke den Draak

Janneke den Draak

Hi, I'm Janneke and I'm your go-to person for Dragon and Apple speech recognition software help.

When I got severe repetitive strain injury issues over 20 years ago, I didn't want to give up using the computer. So I learned all about controlling the PC with speech recognition and dictating my documents and emails.

I've now been a speech recognition software trainer and consultant for almost two decades, teaching over 2000 people handsfree productivity!

My online courses for Apple Voice Control and Dragon offer self-paced learning and I also love running my membership for Dragon users. For those in need of an intensive training or custom speech command creation, I am available for one-on-one calls.

  • Hello – We have an IOS App that captures dictation and translates it to text for a block of text. We are using Apple speech swift library an invoke speech capture with a button in the App. This works but the accuracy is not as good as if we pop up the keyboard and then press the microphone. We are surprised that we don’t get the same translation regardless of how we invoke transcription.

    Any ideas of why this would happen? It’s like speech library uses a different engine.

    • Hi Larry,
      It would be best to ask the App developer for info on which speech recognition engine is used for their app. It could well be that it is a different engine from the keyboard microphone speech recognition.

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