Use Voice Search with the Apple TV

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Amazon introduced its Fire TV yesterday, and one of the features the company touts is “voice search.” Using a tiny microphone in the device’s remote, you will be able to speak when searching for content, instead of pecking out letters by moving a cursor around on your TV screen. For example, you might want to look for a specific movie to watch, so you will simply say its name into the remote to have its text typed in a search field.

But you can already do this with the Apple TV; not with its own remote, but with the iOS Remote app. Open the Remote app, tap on your Apple TV, and you will be able to control it. If you go to a search field, you can dictate into your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, instead of typing.

Say you tap the Search button in one of the iTunes Store apps: movies, TV shows, music. The Remote app displays a search field, with a keyboard below it; tap the microphone button and speak into your device’s microphone.

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You’ll see the waves dancing around at the bottom of the screen as you talk. When you’re finished, tap Done, then tap return. The Remote app will send your text to the Apple TV.

Granted, you need an iOS device to do this, but if you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, there’s no reason not to take advantage of voice search right now on your Apple TV.

12 replies
  1. swedish chef says:

    Nice tip, thanks. It’s not exactly seamless, though. I’m hoping for this to be much improved in future iterations of the Apple TV.

    • Kirk McElhearn says:

      It’s not hard when you get used to it. I’d like to see it built into the hardware remote, but that would require a bigger remote, because bigger batteries would be needed.

      • Joe Nash says:

        I don’t think a bigger remote would cause Apple TV’s reputation any harm. I find the current remote pretty lacking. If anything, I’d say the remote was too small and flimsy.

  2. David Lau says:

    This is very useful especially when using with foreign language voice search. I used this method to search for some Chinese movies in YouTube. I bet Fire TV would not do that. :P

  3. Bruce Blakely says:

    Yes – nice tip. But can you do anything besides search (apparently the Fire is limited to search for voice as well)? I want to be able to say “Netflix, House of Cards, Play”

  4. Velvor (@velvor) says:

    It’s not exactly the same, a good workaround, but not the same, even though the app for iOS is cool, I hardly use it, for the same reason I don’t love using Chromecast, you depend on another device instead of simply use the remote…

  5. justme says:

    Wow this is great. Who knew? I do wish I could search my content too, instead of just the iTunes Store. But a great tip.

  6. Anthony Dodd says:

    I don’t believe talking is the most efficient way to do this. I think Apple needs a dedicated iOS app for Apple TV. An app that mirrors what you see on the Apple TV and pops out a keyboard when needed. And a way to search all your apps via the iOS Device. That is: make a better app and you’d almost never need to speak to your TV.


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