Siri has at all times been one of many Apple TV’s greatest options. On a fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K, the voice assistant can rapidly launch movies, tune to stay TV channels, and supply search outcomes for particular genres.
However till not too long ago, Apple didn’t provide a hands-free manner to make use of Siri on an Apple TV, like Amazon presents with Fireplace TV and Alexa, or like Google presents with Chromecast, Android TV, and Google Assistant. In case you needed to manage the Apple TV, you needed to attain for the distant.
That modified with iOS 12.2, which helps you to use hands-free Siri voice instructions by way of an iPhone or iPad. As soon as it’s all arrange, you may say issues like “Hey Siri, tune to ESPN on Apple TV,” or “Hey Siri, watch Sport of Thrones season eight, episode 4 on the living-room TV,” and Apple will deal with the remainder.
Right here’s an entire information to getting located with hands-free Siri voice instructions:
Step 1: Allow “Hey Siri” in iOS
By enabling hands-free Siri in your iPhone or iPad, you can begin watching issues on Apple TV with simply voice instructions, even when your system is locked.
To set this up, head to Settings in your iOS system, choose “Siri & Search,” after which toggle on “Pay attention for ‘Hey Siri.’” You’ll must learn a number of pattern instructions to show Siri your voice. When you’ve executed that, be sure that “Permit Siri When Locked” is enabled as effectively.
Repeat this step for some other iPhones or iPads you wish to use with the Apple TV.
Step 2: Signal into iCloud on iOS and Apple TV
In your iPhone or iPad, head to Settings and search for a “Sign up” choice on the prime of the display screen, after which signal into your iCloud account. In case you solely see your title as a substitute of a sign-in choice, you’re already good to go.
You’ll additionally should signal into the identical iCloud account on the Apple TV. Head to Settings > Accounts > iCloud, after which choose “Sign up.” (We’ll cowl methods to allow Apple TV voice instructions for different customers with separate iCloud accounts shortly.)
Step 3: Allow AirPlay 2 on Apple TV
To receive commands from an iOS device, your Apple TV must have AirPlay 2 enabled. On the Apple TV, head to Settings > AirPlay and make sure it says “On.” Then, scroll down and select “Room” from the same menu.
You’ll now see a “Start Using AirPlay 2” prompt on the TV. As instructed, unlock your iOS device, turn on Bluetooth, and hold it close to the Apple TV, and then hit “Connect” when prompted on your iOS device to complete the pairing. (If this prompt doesn’t appear, try locking and unlocking your device again.) Finally, select the room in which your Apple TV resides. Later, you’ll be able to refer to this room by name in your voice commands.
Step 4: Install compatible apps
As of this writing, more than 80 Apple TV apps support universal search with Siri, and most of them can launch videos directly in response to voice commands. Just make sure the app you want to use appears on the Apple TV search support list, and that you’ve already signed into the app. (We’ll cover specific voice commands in the next section.)
If you’re subscribed to PlayStation Vue, FuboTV, or DirecTV Now, you can use voice commands to watch any live TV channel included with those services.
If a compatible video app is installed on your iPhone or iPad, but not on Apple TV, the video will instead launch using Apple’s AirPlay protocol. This, however, requires you to unlock your iOS device, and it precludes you from using other apps that require video or sound. You’re better off installing the TV app instead.
Step 5: Enable HDMI-CEC
With HDMI-CEC enabled on both the Apple TV and your television, Siri will be able to turn on the TV before playing a video. On Apple TV, head to Settings > Remotes and Devices, and make sure “Control TVs and Receivers” is set to “On.”
Then, in your TV’s settings, look for a “CEC” option and enable it. As Apple points out, the exact name of this option can differ for some TVs, so look for a setting with “Link” or “Sync” in the name, such as Aquos Link or Bravia Sync, if a CEC option isn’t displayed specifically.
Optional: Invite others to use voice commands
If you have other users at home with separate iCloud accounts, you can invite them to control the Apple TV from their own iPhones or iPads. Open the Home app on your iOS device, press the home icon in the top-left corner, and then select “Invite…” under the People section. Finally, enter the email address associated with the iCloud account of whoever you wish to invite.
The other person will then get an invite message on their iOS device. Once they’ve accepted, they’ll be able to control Apple TV with their own iPhones and iPads.
Step 5: Check out some voice commands
Finally, you’re ready to control your Apple TV hands-free. Here are some voice commands to check out:
- ”Hey Siri, play Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Apple TV”
- ”Hey Siri, watch Red Oaks on the living room TV.”
- ”Hey Siri, watch Game of Thrones season eight, episode four on the living-room TV.”
- ”Hey Siri, rewind one minute on Apple TV.”
- ”Hey Siri, fast forward five minutes on Apple TV.”
- ”Hey Siri, turn on closed captions on Apple TV.”
Limitations and workarounds
While hands-free Siri controls are nice to have on Apple TV, they’re far from perfect. Here are some of the issues you might run into:
Most notably, Netflix does not let you directly launch a video with voice commands. To complete the process, you’ll need to grab a remote—or open the virtual Apple TV remote in Control Center on iOS—and hit select to begin playback.
A similar frustration can emerge if the Apple TV tries steering you into the wrong app for given program. After signing up for HBO through Apple TV Channels, for instance, Apple might prompt you to install HBO Go instead of launching shows directly. If this happens, grab the remote and scroll down while viewing the info page for any show until you see the “How to Watch” section. Select your preferred source, and Apple TV should remember it in the future.
It’s possible that even after following the setup instructions above, you might still run into issues getting voice commands to work, including an error in which Siri says, “I couldn’t find any TVs nearby. Make sure you’re on the same Wi-Fi.” If this happens, try disabling iCloud and AirPlay 2 support, and then running through setup again. In the worst-case scenario, you might need to perform a factory reset on the Apple TV (Settings > System > Reset) to get things working properly.
In general, Siri is better at responding to “Play” than “Watch” when you’re trying to start a particular show. (With the latter, the assistant has a tendency to hear “What’s” instead of “Watch,” resulting in a failed search attempt.)
When asking playing a particular show or channel, Siri should automatically select the appropriate streaming service, such as Hulu or PlayStation Vue; if it doesn’t, you can include the service name in your voice command.
Got questions about Apple TV, Siri, and hands-free voice commands? Send me an email or reach out on Twitter.