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Voice commands on Apple TV: As close as it gets to talking to your own personal Jarvis

While it’s true that voice commands are not new to streaming boxes like Google TV, and Amazon Fire TV, the integration of Siri in the new Apple TV takes the home entertainment experience to a whole new level, at least according to those on Santa’s nice list this Holiday Season, who wished for one.

Apple TV remote

One thing that makes Apple TV different from other comparable devices, is the quality of the microphone, which doesn’t require the user to hold the remote close to the mouth when issuing commands.

For those who didn’t watch the unveiling of the new Apple TV last year, the keynote highlighted a few useful commands to try on the brand new set top box, that will make you feel “kind of” like Tony Stark... minus the holographic interface, the latter of which we’ll leave up to Microsoft, for now.

“Find Hugo Weaving’s movies”

For those who don’t know who Hugo Weaving is, let Siri educate you about some of the darkest, sternest characters in films like The Matrix trilogy (Mr. Smith), The Hobbit (Elrond), and Captain America First Avenger(Red Skull), featuring one of the best monologuing actors who is not...well... Morgan Freeman. The great thing about Siri’s integration in Apple TV is that it will find every movie available, featuring Weaving’s ominous-toned, stern, dark, sinister versatility, across all apps, including Apple’s own App Store, Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, and more.

“Turn on captioning”

Even the most die-hard Game of Thrones fan will occasionally need some help understanding its wide variety of medieval jargon, which is where this handy voice command comes to the rescue, by activating close captioning, and providing some proper references to use as a conversation starter on your way to ComiCon.

“Reduce loud sounds”

The ability to adjust sound settings quickly is something often underrated by most TV manufacturers, as well as many set top streaming boxes on the market. Pet owners, for instance, may need to be mindful of loud sounds from action movies that may cause anxiety, especially in dogs. In those types of situations, the quickest option is to lower the volume, however this comes at a cost of missing portions of dialogue, especially if popcorn or other crunchy food in involved during movie night. By telling Siri to “Reduce loud sounds”, Apple TV will automatically adjust the sound settings to reduce the level of sounds like explosions and gunshots, while boosting voiced dialogue.

“What did he (or she) just say?”

This command is useful when an occasional noise or distraction takes our attention away from a portion of dialogue. By asking “What did he (or she) say?”, Apple TV will roll back briefly, and repeat the last minute or so of dialogue from a show or movie.

“Go back/ahead 30 seconds/minutes”

This is the equivalent of the dream DVR function we all wish we had, when watching the extended version of a Family Guy cut-away scene featuring Surfing Bird, of Conway Twitty. While it’s funny the first time, the second time is when we really want to press that button and beg Siri for mercy.

“Who stars in this?”

This command is a life-saver when spotting that actress, or actor, whose name keeps eluding us, by displaying an on-screen overlay, listing the main cast of the current featured presentation.

When the overlay appears, we can then use the remote to highlight the actor or actress on interest. To return to the video playback, we will simply press the Menu button.

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