Helping Siri recognize difficult names | iLounge Tips

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Helping Siri recognize difficult names


Siri’s integration with your iOS Contacts can be very handy for placing calls, sending e-mails and messages and getting directions. However unless everybody in your address book has simple to pronounce names like “Bob Smith” it’s likely you’ve had less than satisfying results when trying to look up your friends by voice. Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple way to help Siri with hard-to-pronounce names—like Phil Dzikiy—simply by adding the phonetic pronunciation of each name directly to the Contact record. Simply open the Contacts app, tap on the person’s name and tap Edit. Scrolling down to the bottom of the page you should see an “Add Field” option, which you can tap on to see a list of additional fields that you can add to your contact record. For example, for Phil Dzikiy, you would choose Phonetic Last Name and type in something along the lines of “Dezeekee” and then do the same for the Phonetic First Name and enter “Fill.” As an added bonus, not only will this help Siri recognize your friends’ names better, but it should also help her with the pronunciation when the names are read back to you. Unfortunately, it’s worth mentioning that there is a small downside to this approach: the iOS Contacts app will sort your Contacts based on the Phonetic Names, when present, rather than the actual names, so this will affect the sorting of your Contacts, however that may be a small price to pay for accurate recognition of their names.

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Why the heck would Contacts sort by phonetic pronuciation?!? That’s ludicrous.

Posted by sjthomas in Toronto on October 3, 2012 at 12:35 AM (CDT)


The Phonetic Name fields are apparently actually intended for use with languages such as Japanese and Chinese, which basically use complex character sets that can in many cases have multiple pronunciations.  Using them to “fix” Siri in this manner is a nice byproduct of this feature, but I guess wasn’t the primary purpose for which it was designed.

Arguably, however, since this workaround has been used even going back to the days of iPhone 3GS Voice Control, it would make sense for Apple to provide better support for it in terms of not overriding the sort order, at least when standard latin character sets are being used in the name fields.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on October 3, 2012 at 11:25 AM (CDT)


This works well.  What can you do otherwise?  The technology isn’t perfect yet.
That said, what’s annoying is that on my Mac running 10.8.2, I can’t add or edit those settings I added on my iPhone.  Why?  The contact should be the same on all devices, whether the presence of Siri is there or not.

Posted by sb in Toronto on October 3, 2012 at 1:59 PM (CDT)


RE IPHONE 5 and SIRI and TALKLER. Even with iOS6, and the new iPhone 5, Siri still won’t do email.We need true email inbox management that’s eyes-free. There’s a NEW smartphone app called Talkler — billed as “email for your ears.” Talkler is a free smartphone app for heads-up, hands-off, reads-aloud-to-you,voice-controlled email. So we can reclaim those wasted minutes behind the wheel, and get to the office with an empty inbox. Worth checking and

Posted by vanessa in Toronto on October 12, 2012 at 3:18 PM (CDT)

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