Start Page: Take a hands-off approach: Control iPhone with your voice

Seth WilsonRecently, Apple released the latest version of its iPhone operating system, iOS 13 (iPad software is coming soon). Each year, the software gets better when it comes to entering text, which is the key to getting stuff done on your phone. Apple does not disappoint with iOS 13, offering two features that have been around for a while, but continue to get better: Voice Control and swipe keyboard (QuickPath).


Detractors will be quick to point out that there are numerous apps that already do “swipe to type” and that Apple is late to the game. That said, Apple’s take on the swipe to type keyboard is pretty impressive. QuickPath is available by default, and I find myself using it more consistently (and slowly getting better with it when I can’t dictate). Because it is easy to switch between the more traditional method of text entry and the swipe actions, it feels more usable and less gimmicky. It’s also fun.

Here’s how it works: on the keyboard, drag your finger across the letters of the word you want to type. The software will guess what word you want to type. When done, remove your finger from the keyboard. Functionally, after you have “swyped” a word, you don’t need to add a space – simply swipe the next word. If you made a mistake, by default, a backspace will delete the entire word. This can be changed in Settings, if you like.

You can also switch the typed word by tapping one of the suggested autocorrect words just above the onscreen keyboard. A quick double-tap on the space bar will enter a period, and you are on to the next sentence.

The key is to remember that you want to move rather quickly. If you think about it too much, you will be less accurate. Too fast, and the same result. You have to work with it a bit to find a swiping rhythm. It’s almost like dictation, where you want to think through what you want to say and then say it.

I don’t recommend trying a swipe keyboard for the first time on an important email or when you are pressed for time. The first few times you use this tool, it will likely frustrate you. Stick with it. Try it when you have some time to see how the technology works. Or, you may just opt for Voice Control.

Voice Control

Voice-to-text is increasingly popular as a method of text entry on mobile devices. Admit it: you’ve whispered into your phone so you don’t have to deal with tapping out a message. With the newest iOS, Apple brings even more options to the mobile user.

Voice Control is an accessibility feature that brings all users the ability to control their phones with their voice. Welcome to the future. To enable it, Open Settings, then Accessibility, then choose Voice Control. According to the set-up prompts, Voice Control offers deeper control over your phone and its features (compared to Siri). You can use system commands and navigation. You can work with what’s onscreen. And, importantly for lawyers, you now have both the ability to dictate and edit text. It offers “extensive controls for dictating and editing text, including placing the cursor.” You will want to be connected to a wireless network, as your phone will need to download some files to your device.

When you first enable Voice Control, your device will provide you with instructions for accessing and using Voice Control features. For example, you can tell your phone to:

• Open

• Open control center

• Go home

• Go back

• Go to sleep

You can also work with what’s onscreen. You can direct your phone to “show grid,” then tell the phone to “Tap

,” which will act just as if you tapped the screen. There are other options, too (“Tap ,” “long press ,” “swipe left,” “swipe up ”).

You can dictate and edit text. You are probably familiar with dictating text, but you can now edit that dictated text with your voice. Say: “Select ,” “move down,” “move to end,” “delete that,” “correct ,” “uppercase that,” “copy that,” and the list goes on. This is a more full-featured tool that rivals Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

Try this. Enable Voice Control on your device. Dictate the phrase “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” into the body of a blank email, then say, “Correct that.” You are given five choices. All you have to do is say, “Choose ,” and what was typed will be changed to that correction.

The ability to control your phone with your voice is great. It’s now feasible to operate your phone without touching it. Amazing!•

Seth R. Wilson is an attorney with Adler Attorneys in Noblesville. In addition to practicing law, he helps manage the day-to-day technology operations of the firm. He writes about legal technology at and is a frequent speaker on the subject. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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