iOS 18 will let you set custom voice phrases to trigger actions, no ‘Siri’ necessary

by novelcake

Today amid a wealth of accessibility announcements, including hands-free CarPlay and the futuristic Live Captions on Vision Pro, Apple announced that iOS 18 would be introducing a powerful new voice feature. Vocal Shortcuts will enable system-wide action triggers based on custom phrases you set, with no need to say “Siri.”

The power of Vocal Shortcuts in iOS 18

From Apple’s press release:

With Vocal Shortcuts, iPhone and iPad users can assign custom utterances that Siri can understand to launch shortcuts and complete complex tasks.

No other real details were given, aside from a single example. As you can see in the images above, the phrase “Rings” was set to automatically open a user’s Activity app and display their Activity Rings.

The feature’s explicit use of the word “shortcuts,” combined with the recent history of Apple enabling the iPhone 15 Pro’s Action button to be used as a shortcut trigger, makes me think these new voice phrases will be able to initiate any custom shortcut you build.

You could set up simple voice shortcuts for enabling Do Not Disturb, Low Power Mode, or toggling similar system settings. Or, using the Shortcuts app, you could build complex, multi-step shortcuts that all trigger when you say the magic words.

Removing the word “Siri” from voice triggers certainly opens the potential for far more accidental triggers. However, since iOS 18 will require you to configure each custom phrase manually, and say each phrase multiple times during set up, hopefully those unintentional triggers will be minimal.

Voice-first computing takes a leap forward

I can’t wait to play around with setting my own custom phrases in iOS 18. If this new voice feature works well, it could unlock abundant new computing potential for power users and casual users alike. Maybe Vocal Shortcuts will truly make your device more accessible for you. But whoever you are, and whatever your needs, this powerful feature should enable a more efficient, friction-free, and futuristic computing interaction model.

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