A screenshot from a TV spot featuring Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock using Siri to dominate his day

On iOS 10 and later, Apple’s untethered Hey Siri feature uses Bluetooth proximity information to intelligently activate the smart assistant on one nearby device at a time. Here’s how to use Hey Siri properly in situations when there are multiple nearby devices that support this cool feature.

The system is smart enough to determine which device should answer.

TL;DR: If you raise your wrist and say “Hey Siri,” the system is going to assume that you’d like to converse with your favorite assistant through the watch. If you’re currently using an iPhone, iPad or Mac, then one of these devices may respond. And if you own a HomePod and are not touching any other device, the smart speaker will take the lead most of the time.

Hey Siri compatibility

In September 2014, Apple added the ability for users to speak “Hey Siri” to invoke the digital assistant without having to press any buttons or physically handle the device.

TUTORIAL: How to have Siri synchronize its brain across devices

At first, Hey Siri required that a device be connected to power.

Later on, the feature took advantage of Apple’s motion coprocessors to monitor microphone input in a power-friendly manner, without waking up the main processor. Hey Siri is now a fully tetherless feature that works whether the device is running on battery power or connected to a wall socket.

TUTORIAL: How to control AirPlay 2 with Siri

Hey Siri is currently available on:

If you’re wondering, here’s why Apple chose Hey Siri as the wake-up phrase.

It also won’t hurt if we mention that voice recognition for the wake-up phrase is an on-device algorithm that doesn’t require Internet connectivity at all. As soon as the device has recognized an utterance of the “Hey Siri” hot phrase, the rest of your voice query is uploaded to a Siri backend on Apple’s servers for parsing and detailed analysis.

Which Siri?

So, what will happen if you shout ”Hey Siri” near multiple devices that support it?

As I mentioned in the previous section, all nearby devices that support Hey Siri capability take advantage of Bluetooth to quickly communicate with each other in order to determine which device you’re trying to use.

The device that responds to Hey Siri is one of the following:

  • The device that heard you best
  • The device that was recently raised
  • The device that was recently used

As an example, if you raise your wrist to wake up the Apple Watch display and say the magic word, Siri knows you wanna summon her through the watch so she’ll send a quick command to other nearby devices to ignore the request.

TUTORIAL: How to use Siri on Apple Watch without Hey Siri

In another example, an iPhone and iPad Pro are lying on bed, but there’s also an Apple TV and HomePod under their TV set. In that scenario, saying “Hey Siri” would trigger Siri on the smart speaker. In our example, HomePod would actually be the device that heard you best given that it’s outfitted with a six-microphone array for excellent far-field Siri reception.

TUTORIAL: How to type to Siri

And lastly, a user’s iPhone and iPad are left on a kitchen table. For the purposed of this tutorial, let’s pretend these are the only two Apple devices our fortunate user owns and that they most recently raised their tablet. If they say “Hey Siri” near their iPhone or iPad, the tablet will respond to the query because it was most recently used.

How to use Hey Siri with multiple Apple devices

If you have multiple Apple devices, here’s how to use Hey Siri separately on each device.

iPhone and iPad

Just raise your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to wake it up, then say “Hey Siri”.

Alternatively, press and hold the Side button on your iPhone X or the Home button on older iOS devices to immediately ask Siri a question without preceding the query with “Hey Siri”.

A screenshot showing using Hey Siri on an iPhone

TUTORIAL: How to temporarily disable Hey Siri on iOS without changing any settings

If your iPhone is laid face down on a flat surface like a table, it won’t respond to Hey Siri.

A tetherless Hey Siri works on the iPhone 6s, iPad Pro, sixth-generation iPad and sixth-generation iPod touch models or later. Older models must be plugged into power to use Hey Siri.

Mac

If your Mac supports it, you can use Siri without clicking the Siri icon or pressing a keyboard shortcut (you can also use Hey Siri when your supported Mac is locked or in sleep).

Just say “Hey Siri” when the computer is awake, you’re logged in to your macOS user account and the screen isn’t locked. If your trusted digital assistant doesn’t respond to your command, be sure that Listen for Hey Siri and Allow Siri When Locked are ticked in your Siri settings.

If you have a Mac notebook, keep it open to use Hey Siri.

A screenshot showing using Siri on a Mac

Siri for Mac requires macOS Sierra 10.12 or later. Hey Siri is limited to select models.

Specifically, the iMac Pro all-in-one desktop and Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pro notebook lineup for 2018 include the T2 chip that supports Hey Siri in a power-efficient manner.

TUTORIAL: This trick will let you use Hey Siri on unsupported Macs

Of course, you can invoke the smart assistant manually by clicking the Siri icon in your Mac’s menu bar, the Dock, the Applications folder or Touch Bar.

HomePod

Apple clarifies that HomePod responds to most Siri requests, even with other Hey Siri devices nearby. So unless you raise to wake another device like your iPhone or Apple Watch, or invoke Siri via a button press, simply say “Hey Siri” and your HomePod should respond.A Home app settings screenshot showing the disabled HomePod option labeled “Listen for Hey Siri”

Is HomePod refusing to pick up your Hey Siri command?

If that seems to be the case, you’ve probably said ”Hey Siri, turn off Hey Siri” at some point or used the Home app on your iOS device to turn off listening for the trigger phrase.

TUTORIAL: How to temporarily disable “Hey Siri” on HomePod

To turn Hey Siri back on, simply touch and hold the top of the wireless speaker, then say ”Turn on Hey Siri.” You will hear an audible confirmation that the feature has been re-enabled.

Apple Watch

To enable Hey Siri on your Apple Watch:

  • On your paired iPhone, tap Settings → Siri & Search and make sure that the options labeled Listen for Hey Siri and Press Home for Siri have been turned on.
  • On your Apple Watch, tap Settings → General → Siri and make sure that Hey Siri is on.

To have Hey Siri prioritize your watch over any other device, raise your wrist or tap the display of the watch. When the screen wakes from sleep, just say “Hey Siri” followed by your request.

Hey Siri works on any Apple Watch model.

A screenshot showing using Hey Siri on an Apple Watch

On Apple Watch Series 3 and newer, Siri also speaks responses to you.

On older models, you get visual responses on your watch face. Apple Watch Series 3 and newer also lets you activate and use Siri from a paired Bluetooth headset.

Your watch or the phone must be connected to the Internet for Siri to work.

Apple TV

Apple TV does not yet support the always-on Hey Siri feature.

A screenshot showing invoking Siri on an Apple TV with a press of the Siri button

To use a tethered Siri on your fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K, be sure that the feature has been enabled for your set-top box in Settings → General → Siri. Then, simply hold down the Siri button on your Siri Remote, say what you want and release the Siri button.

Siri on Apple TV requires tvOS 9 or newer.

Is the wrong device responding to Hey Siri?

If you follow the guidelines outlined in the previous sections but the wrong device continues to responds to Hey Siri, the following troubleshooting steps might help:

  • Enable Bluetooth: Be sure that each Hey Siri device has its Bluetooth turned on. If Bluetooth is disabled or your device isn’t in Bluetooth range of the other devices, multiple devices might respond to your request.
  • Update the OS: It goes without saying you should ensure that each device has the newest operating system from Apple. Having some devices on older software might result in multiple devices respond to Hey Siri.
  • Turn on Hey Siri, stupid: Obviously, the Hey Siri feature must be turned on in Siri settings on each device that you want to use it with.
  • Connect to the Internet: While Hey Siri recognition happens on the device, parsing queries requires an Internet connection. If you’re using Siri on Apple Watch, be sure that either the watch or the phone has an active Internet connection.
  • Beware of iPhone Facedown detection: Since iOS 9, iPhone has supported a Facedown Detection feature that silences all alerts and temporarily disables Hey Siri if laid with its face down.
  • Check HomePod settings: The speaker lacks a screen that would make it immediately clear if “Hey Siri” is on or off. If you’ve disabled “Hey Siri” on your homePod, touch and hold its top and say ”Turn on Hey Siri” to re-enable the feature. Alternatively, use the Home app to turn off Listen for Hey Siri.
  • Open that lid: 2017ćs iMac Pro and 2018’s MacBook Pros use Apple’s T2 coprocessor that also handles Hey Siri. If your Mac supports Hey Siri but doesn’t respond to the trigger word, opening the lid will enable Siri listening session.
  • Don’t lock the Mac screen: Your Mac doesn’t respond to Hey Siri when the screen is locked. If you cannot use “Hey Siri” while the screen is locked, untick the box next to ”Allow Siri when locked” in System Preferences → Siri.

And that’s all you need to know about using “Hey Siri” on multiple devices.

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