Need to teach Siri how to pronounce a name or understand a nickname in your contacts list? You can train her to better understand your commands on iOS.
By Lance Whitney of PCMag.com
Are you tired of Siri mangling the names of people in your contact list? Siri can get vexed and perplexed by names that aren’t easy to pronounce, but you can fix her mistakes so your friendly, neighborhood voice assistant learns the right way to speak the names of family, friends, and other folks.
Siri can also get confused when you try to call or text someone in your contact list when you try to use a nickname. You can train Siri about pronunciations and nicknames on your iPhone or iPad, but the process will need to be repeated for both devices. Luckily it works the same no matter what you’re using.
Pronounce First Name
Let’s say you’ve asked Siri to call or send an email or text message to someone, and in so doing, Siri mispronounces the name. Activate Siri again and say: “You pronounced it wrong.” Siri asks how you pronounce the person’s first name. Tell her, and she’ll display a list of options, asking you to choose the right one. Tap on each option to hear how the name will be pronounced. If none of the options sound right, tap on the link to “Tell Siri again.” Siri asks you to say the name again, then displays another list of options. Again, tap on each one to hear it and then tap on Select to choose the best one.
Pronounce Last Name
Next, Siri asks how you pronounce the person’s last name. Pronounce the name for Siri. She displays the list of options. Tap on each one to hear it. No good? Tap on “Tell Siri again” and repeat the name. Tap on each of the new options and tap Select to choose the best one. If the person has a middle name, Siri will ask you how to pronounce that as well.
Teach Siri With a Direct Command
Alternatively, you can say: “Hey Siri, learn to pronounce name of contact.” Siri goes through the same steps, asking how to pronounce the first name and then the last name by prompting you to select the best option for each.
Enter Phonetic Spelling
If you can’t get Siri to pronounce the name by voice, then you may have better results diving into the person’s contact information and spelling the name phonetically. Launch the Contacts app, open the person’s entry, and tap on Edit in the upper-right corner. Swipe down the contact page until you see the link to add field. Tap on that link. At the Add Field page, tap on the entry for Phonetic first name.
Finalize Phonetic Spelling
In the Phonetic first name field, type the name phonetically as best as you can. You may want to look up the name in a dictionary or search online to see how it’s spelled phonetically. Swipe down the screen, tap on add field, and tap the field for Phonetic last name. Type the last name phonetically in the appropriate field. Tap Done. You can then ask Siri to show you contact information for that person, and Siri will now pronounce the full name.
Pronouncing a Company
You can extend this process beyond a person’s name to the name of a company. The contact information for a company includes a field for Phonetic company name. Add that field. Type the name phonetically, and Siri should learn the right way to pronounce it.
What if their names are pronounced correctly, but Siri is having trouble telling people apart. This is where nicknames become handy.
Let’s say you ask Siri to call or text someone by saying his or her first name, for example, “call John,” and there’s more than one John in your contact list. Siri will ask which John, displaying and speaking the possible choices.
If you want to avoid all that, simply giving the contact’s last name will allow you to identify the correct contact quicker. As a warning, this method works best for last names that are different from the first names of other contacts. If you have more than one contact with the same last name, Siri will still ask you to specify the correct person.
Set a Relationship
Maybe you want to call or text a family member or relative but want to refer to that person by the relationship rather than his or her name. Here, you have a few options. Say: “Hey Siri, call Dad.” The first time you do this, Siri asks for your father’s name. Give her the name, and Siri then asks if you want to remember that person as your father. Say yes. From then on, ask Siri to “Call Dad” or “Call my father,” and she’ll know who to contact.
Set a Relationship With a Direct Command
You can also give a nickname to a specific person based on your relationship by explaining it to Siri. Say: “Siri, wife’s name is my wife” or “husband’s name is my husband” or “son’s name is my son.” Siri asks if you want to remember that the person you named is your wife or husband or son. Answer yes, and Siri records the relationship in your entry in the Contacts app. You can extend this to friends, cousins, doctors, dentists, and other people in your life.
Manually Set Relationship
Alternatively, you can go directly to your entry in the Contacts app to create a nickname. Launch Contacts and open your own entry. Tap on Edit. Swipe down the screen and tap on the button for “add related name.” Tap on the term that best describes the relationship, e.g., mother, father, brother, sister, spouse, manager. Then tap on the info button next to Related Name and select the contact you want to associate with the term you selected.
Set Custom Label
If none of the existing terms are a good match, tap the entry at the bottom to “Add Custom Label.” Type the term you want to use, such as Accountant. Tap Done. Then tap on the Info button next to Related Name and select the contact name for your accountant. Tap Done.
Remove a Nickname
What if you need to change or remove a nickname? No problem. You can tell Siri: “Joe Smith is no longer my accountant” or “Jane Doe is no longer my boss.” Siri asks if you want her to remember that information. Tap or say yes. If the nickname is saved in your entry in the Contacts app, just edit your entry and tap on the Delete button to remove the nickname and relationship.
How do you feel about Siri’s ability to learn? Sound off in the comments below!