Blog Post

iOS quick tip: Turn on spoken notifications

An iOS feature you may not know about is one where you can have your notifications spoken to you. It’s not Siri EyesFree, which is a mode designed to be integrated with cars. But it does use the same Siri voice to speak to you.

Spoken notifications can come in handy when using your iOS device while working out at the gym, riding a bicycle or attached to your car’s hands-free audio system via Bluetooth.  No need to actually look at the screen and read the message you just received. All you need to do is listen. Here is how to set it up.

Enable the VoiceOver Accessibility setting

The iOS setting that you need to enable is actually an accessibility feature called VoiceOver.  This feature can be used to read all aspects of the screen using Siri’s voice, including notifications that pop up on the screen.  The following steps will also allow you to easily turn on and off the VoiceOver setting, as it may not be a feature that you want enabled all of the time.

VoiceOver Settings

  • Open the Settings App and navigate to the Accessibility setting located within the General settings.
  • Select the VoiceOver settings located at the top of the list, but do not turn it on just yet. Instead scroll down to the bottom of the VoiceOver settings and turn on Speak Notifications.
  • Navigate back to the list of all Accessibility settings and scroll down to the bottom of the list.
  • Set the Triple-click Home Button setting to turn on VoiceOver and exit out of the Settings app.

That’s it.  Now every time the Home button is triple-clicked, the device will enter into VoiceOver mode.  Once in VoiceOver mode, Siri’s voice will read aloud all of the information on the screen, including notifications. To turn off VoiceOver, simply triple-click the Home button again.

Works with any Notifications-capable app

This VoiceOver feature as configured above will work with any app that takes advantage of iOS’s notification system.  Just be sure to configure the notification setting so that the app you are interested in can display an alert on the lock screen.  Using VoiceOver this way will respect your Do Not Disturb settings.

Twitter Notifications

One app in particular that is useful to use in association with this feature is Twitter.  I have enabled certain news accounts that I follow on Twitter to be able to send me notifications.  With VoiceOver feature enabled, Siri will speak over the music that I am listening to and read the tweet to me.  It’s like adding your own custom news service to your favorite music stream, which I have found to be a very useful feature.

2 Responses to “iOS quick tip: Turn on spoken notifications”

  1. Andrew

    Or you could leave VoiceOver alone and just ask Siri to read you your notifications after you hear or feel a new notification noise or vibration.