Unleashing Creativity with Your iPhone: The Magic of APPLE's Vocal Shortcasts

The reigning household name in personal technology, constantly striving to introduce new methods to more seamlessly interact with our pocket-sized supercomputers, is Apple. In that spirit, one of the standout features of this year’s iOS 18 reveal was a quirky Easter egg that has tech enthusiasts and casual users talking. That feature, called Vocal Shortcuts, wasn’t introduced to the world in grand, crowd-pleasing fashion. In fact, it was only intended as an accessibility aid, but it has unlocked a new level of customisation for your iPhone: you can now rename your digital assistant. Yes, you read that correctly: it no longer has to be Siri; you can now call it, for instance, Jarvis, or HAL 9000, or indeed, cheekily reference its arch rival by calling it Alexa. So, how does this fun feature work, and why is it causing a stir on Reddit and other forums of the MacRumors ilk?

The Step-by-Step Guide to Renaming Siri

The first step is actually, well, technical. Vocal Shortcuts are a snap to set up. The journey begins with a quick trip into the iPhone’s Settings app. The Accessibility settings will lead you to the Vocal Shortcuts option. Tap into the ‘Set Up Vocal Shortcuts’ and select Siri as the destination for a new moniker. Once the new name has been entered, the iPhone will ask you to teach it the new name by saying it three times in a row. This is how you personalise your VRAS’s trigger word.

A Sneak Peek into iOS 18's Vocal Shortcuts

Handled correctly, visual aids are always welcome, as is a handy graphic from Mashable that shows users how to actually use iOS 18’s Vocal Shortcuts. So, for example, to change your monthly Spotify playlist, a visual aid is always helpful.

Considering the Quirks: The Limitations of Renaming Siri

But every rose also has its thorns, or perhaps a couple of minor flaws in the Siri renaming experience. First, this new identity is device-specific: an iPhone might respond to ‘Hey Jarvis’, but your HomePod is never going to switch over to the Siri camp. Second, every command must be prefaced with a pause: ‘Hey Jarvis, how’s the weather looking?’ It’s a minor hurdle to jump, but it just doesn’t have the same sleek flow as when you’re talking to your assistant under their regular name. None of this might sound like a big deal, but the ability to give Siri a name adds an element of play to an otherwise mundane interaction with technology.

Why Stick with "Hey Siri"?

Yes, there is a giddy thrill in giving Siri a new name. But, really, when you want to summon your personal assistant, whether or not you’ve renamed it, most people will probably stick with ‘Hey Siri’. The brand name seems too established, too universal, too embedded in the Apple ecosystem for Siri to not remain at the core.

Exploring the Horizon: Beyond Vocal Shortcuts

Even this feature, after its unveiling, was just a drop in the full bucket of possibilities that iOS 18 was shipped with (don’t you say nothing about our undisclosed WWDC 2024-era features), let alone what the ‘ultra secret’ iOS 18-exclusive features were about – but, similarly to the secret features post-WWDC 2022, they will be discovered by users in the coming weeks and months. Apple is once again blurring the line between what a personal computer can and should do, while providing both powerful new tools and delightful whimsies that resonate with a huge base of users.

A Deeper Insight into APPLE

And fundamentally, Apple is an innovation engine. It seeks to set the future of digital interaction, staking its claim on the way we use mobile devices together – even as the company fights to stave off entire categories of devices. With each successive iOS update, there’s something new to try that feels futuristic. Vocal Shortcuts is just the latest in a long line of efforts by Apple to make its own technology accessible and appealing. It’s also just the latest in a long line of examples that demonstrate that technology, for many people, is a deeply personal experience.

Whether it’s transforming the way we listen to music with the iPod or the way the world thinks about smartphones with the iPhone, Apple has always been guided by an indefatigable search for perfection. So when we play around with features like Vocal Shortcuts, it’s hard not to feel that there’s a whimsical, human side to the technology we use every day – a side that inspires us to experiment, personalise and, ultimately, connect with the things and people that matter most to us.

Ultimately, while the new Vocal Shortcuts for iOS 18 represent a future of personal computing, where technology evolves to work with us, not the other way around, you might call Siri by whatever name you please when they’re finally released in iOS 18 later this year. Perhaps Apple would appreciate the novelty of asking you to rename her. Or maybe you’ll stick with Siri. Regardless, we’ve come to expect continued innovation with every release event and every patch. With each Apple update, we’re on a road to somewhere, and that somewhere is lined with ever-growing possibilities for our beloved iPhone. From wannabe guards to pyromaniacs, we’re playing with fire. But there’s no reason not to enjoy the flames, quirks and all.

Jun 17, 2024
<< Go Back