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How to give Siri a different wake word on your iPhone in iOS 18

Siri on iPhone


I sometimes bump into trouble trying to activate Siri by name when multiple Apple devices are nearby. With my iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch all set up to respond to my voice, the wrong device can answer when I say “Siri” or “Hey Siri.” This means I have to either disable voice activation on some of the devices or trigger Siri by pressing the appropriate button.

If only you could change the wake word that triggers Siri. Well, now you can, at least in the upcoming iOS 18.

Also: You can download iOS 18 beta on your iPhone now. How to get it (and supported models)

Currently in beta and officially due out this fall, iOS 18 offers Vocal Shortcuts, a new feature that lets you modify the wake word for Siri to any custom term or phrase: “computer,”http://www.zdnet.com/”phone,”http://www.zdnet.com/”Spock,”http://www.zdnet.com/”Doctor,” or anything else you want.

While this approach sounds good, there are a few drawbacks.

First, the vocal shortcut doesn’t really replace Siri as the wake word. Rather, it just adds another way to conjure up Apple’s voice assistant. So, you may still need to disable Siri’s voice activation if you run into conflicts with multiple devices.

Second, since this is an iOS 18 feature, the shortcut works only on the iPhone. You can’t set a different wake word for an iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, or HomePod.

Third, you can’t speak the wake word and your request in one sentence as you can with Siri. For example, you can’t say: “Spock, what’s the weather forecast?” all in one shot. Instead, you have to pause after the wake word and then speak your question or request.

Also: Apple Intelligence will improve Siri in 2024, but don’t expect most updates until 2025

Despite the limitation, this can be a helpful way to call on Siri if you keep running into challenges with the regular wake word, or if you just want a more fun option. Here’s how this works.

If you want to try this yourself, you’ll need to install the iOS 18 developer beta on an iPhone. Since the beta is likely to be buggy, you may want to set it up on a spare iPhone if you have one. To install the beta, follow the steps in “You can download iOS 18 beta on your iPhone now. How to get it (and supported models).”

Go to Settings, select Accessibility, and tap the setting for Vocal Shortcuts. Select the option for “Set up Vocal Shortcuts.”

Go to Vocal Shortcut settings

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

At the next screen, tap Continue. At the screen to choose an action, swipe down and choose Siri. Don’t choose Siri Request, as that’s a different action.

Set up Vocal Shortcut

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Type the word or term you want to use for the wake word and tap Go. Next, you’ll be prompted to speak the word three times so that iOS can try to understand how you say it.

Create term

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

When the action is ready, tap Continue. You’ll then be asked if you want to share the recordings and transcripts of your voice shortcut interactions with Apple to help the company fine-tune the system. If so, tap the “Share with Apple” button. If not, tap “Don’t share.”

Opt to share your voice shortcut interactions with Apple

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

To test the new shortcut, speak the wake word. Wait until the Siri circle and prompt appear on the screen. Then speak your actual request, and Siri should comply.

Try the shortcut

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

If you no longer wish to use the shortcut, you have a couple of options. Return to Settings, Accessibility, and then Vocal Shortcuts. Tap Edit and then tap the minus sign for your shortcut to delete it. Alternatively, just turn off the switch for Visual Shortcuts.

Disable the shortcut

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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