How to Control Your iPad’s Music with Your Voice

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

Here’s something cool: You can boss around the music on your iPad by using nothing but your voice. Just press and hold down the Home button (or the equivalent button on a headset) and, after you hear the tone, you can:

  • Play an album, an artist, or a playlist: Say “Play” and then say “album,” “artist,” or “playlist,” and the name of the album, artist, or playlist, respectively. You can issue these voice commands at any time except when you’re on a phone call or having a FaceTime video chat. In other words, you don’t have to have music playing for these voice commands to work.
  • Shuffle the current playlist: Say “Shuffle.” This voice command works only if you’re listening to a playlist.
  • Find out more about the song that’s playing: Ask “What’s playing?” “What song is this?” “Who sings this song?” or “Who is this song by?” Again, these commands work only if you’re already listening to music.
  • Get creative: Siri has a much better grasp on music than before, so try asking her to do things like these:
    • Play songs popular in 1973.
    • Play music by The Beatles.
    • Play the playlist “Music I Love.”
    • Play James Taylor’s first album.
    • Play some classic rock.

Siri can usually interpret commands such as these, and within seconds you’ll be listening to exactly what you want to hear. Plus, if you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you can ask Siri to play virtually any song in the iTunes Store (30 million plus at last count). Finally, because you’re listening to this music on your iPad, you won’t look stupid when you’re talking to it!

Although controlling your music by speaking works most of the time, in noisy environments the iPad may mishear your verbal request and start playing the wrong song or artist or try to call someone on the phone. Using the wired headset helps. And syntax counts, so remember to use the exact wording in the list.

Siri can also identify songs playing in the background, just like the Shazam app. Just ask Siri, “What song is playing?” and let her listen for a moment. She’ll identify the song if she can — and she even has a sense of humor about it. When asked to identify “Come Together” by The Beatles, she replied, “This is The Beatles playing ‘Come Together.’ Right now.”

By the way, Siri’s song-identification prowess is powered by Shazam but doesn’t require you to install the Shazam app.