No two people sound exactly alike. Different people have different accents and ways of pronouncing words, and computer voice recognition systems like Siri, Cortana, and Google’s voice search aren’t as good as actual human beings at understanding every voice. Train your voice assistant and it’ll be better at understanding you.

Traditionally, computerized voice recognition systems have required some training before they understood you. Modern voice assistants are designed to “just work,” but you can still make them recognize the words you say more often by training them.

Siri on iOS 9

RELATED: Learn How to Use Siri, the Handy iPhone Assistant

Apple added some voice training features to Siri in iOS 9. Activate the “Hey Siri” feature — which allows you to say “Hey Siri” and start talking to Siri from anywhere — and you’ll be prompted to perform some voice training.

(On most iPhones, this only works while your screen is on or while your phone is plugged in. If you have an iPhone 6s, you can also say “Hey Siri” while your screen is off to start a voice search.)

To activate this feature, open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, tap the “General” category, and tap “Siri.” Activate the “Allow “Hey Siri”” option and you’ll be prompted to train Siri.

Siri will have you say “Hey Siri”, “Hey Siri, how’s the weather today?”, and “Hey Siri, it’s me.” This will improve Siri’s ability to understand you.

Cortana on Windows 10

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Cortana includes a voice-training feature so you can help Cortana understand your voice better. Like Google, Cortana will upload your voice activity and store it to help Cortana learn your voice over time and understand you better — that’s what the “Speech, inking, & typing” privacy setting controls. You could disable it and tell Cortana to “Stop getting to know me,” but then it would have a harder time understanding you.

To start training Cortana, click or tap the Cortana bar on the taskbar, click the “Notebook” icon at the left of the Cortana pane, and select “Settings.” Activate the “Let Cortana respond to “Hey Cortana” option and then click the “Learn my voice” button. Cortana will walk you through saying a variety of phrases to learn your voice. All of these are things you can actually do with Cortana.

Google on Android, Chrome, and Elsewhere

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Google doesn’t include a special training process on Android. However, some manufacturers do offer this feature on their devices. For example, the Moto Voice application on Motorola phones will prompt you to train it by saying several things the first time you open the Moto Voice app.

Instead, Google captures and keeps all the voice searches, voice actions, and voice dictation activities you perform on your phone. It stores this with your “Voice and Audio Activity,” which is tied to your Google account and used on Android, in Chrome, and in Google’s apps on iOS. You’re free to delete or halt collection of this information at any time, but leaving it enabled means Google will learn how to recognize your voice and the way you pronounce words over time.

To choose whether or not your Android device reports this information, use the “Activity controls” pane in the Google Settings app.

None of these training processes are mandatory, but they’ll help the service in question understand you better. If you find yourself annoyed that your phone, tablet, or computer doesn’t understand you as well as it should, it may just need some training.

Other similar programs — for example, speech-to-text programs — generally have their own integrated training features, too. For example, the Speech Recognition feature that’s been part of Windows for years can be trained to work better.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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