Siri Can Now Play Back Hundreds of Animal Sounds and More Upon Request

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Using iPhone to Ask Siri a Question Credit: ms_pics_and_more / Shutterstock
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Every once in a while Apple quietly adds improvements to Siri without much fanfare, leaving users to simply be surprised and delighted when they discover the magic for themselves, however while Apple hasn’t said much about a Siri improvement in iOS 14.3, this latest one is anything but quiet.

As discovered by CNBC, Siri can now playback animal sounds — and it turns out even more — simply by making a request of your iPhone, iPad, or HomePod, such as “What does a moose sound like?”

The feature is probably the most fun on the HomePod and HomePod mini, where Siri will simply play back the sound right away; on the iPhone and iPad, Siri responds instead with a Siri Knowledge result that includes a playback button that you have to tap before you can listen to the sound.

At this point, the versions of Siri on the Apple Watch and Apple TV don’t appear to have yet been invited to the party; making a request on an Apple Watch running watchOS 7.2 simply shows search results, while a tvOS 14.3-equipped Apple TV responds with the usual “I can’t search for that here” message.

The animal sounds themselves are realistic representations, however, rather than being exaggerated, and while Apple hasn’t said exactly how many new sounds have been added, Siri apparently now has hundreds of new options baked in, including some fairly obscure animals. For example, CNET noted that Siri was able to respond to a request for what a kookaburra sounds like, which is a type of bird that you’ve probably never even heard of.

As The Verge adds, Siri also seems to have sounds on file for a variety of dogs, such as a mastiff, Great Dane, or Shih Tzu, and although a few obscure animals aren’t included, those seem to be limited to ones that don’t have particularly interesting or distinctive noises, such as anteaters.

In some cases, however, Siri does respond with what seem to be different animals from the same family or species. For instance, asking what a moose sounds like will respond by offering up the sound of an “elk” (which is technically the same thing, at least in Eurasia), while asking for a caribou will give you a “reindeer.” However, both of these are arguably identical in terms of the sounds they make, and the actual distinctions are subtle enough to be of interest only to zoologists, linguists, and some nature enthusiasts.

The new clips aren’t just limited to animal sounds either, as Siri has added a variety of musical instruments and vehicle sounds, ranging from things like clarinets, pianos, and fire trucks to theremins and toy poodles, although there are still some weird gaps in those areas — for example, while Siri was able to reproduce clarinets, trumpets, and even bassoons, English horns, and oboes, asking what a saxophone sounds like returned only web results.

How to Make Siri Play Animal Sounds

Getting Siri to quack like a duck is as easy as asking, as long as you’ve updated your iPhone, iPad, or HomePod to iOS 14.3.

As we noted earlier, this doesn’t work on the Apple TV or the Apple Watch; it’s unclear if this is by design or if maybe it still hasn’t finished rolling out yet, but for now you’ll need to make your request to your iOS device or HomePod.

To call up an animal, instrument, or vehicle sound, simply call out with a Siri request like one of the following:

  1. “Hey Siri, what does a moose sound like?”
  2. “Hey Siri, what does a theremin sound like?”
  3. “Hey Siri, what does a humpback whale sound like?”
  4. “Hey Siri, what does a xylophone sound like?”
  5. “Hey Siri, what does a firetruck sound like?”

On the HomePod, Siri will announce the name of the animal or other sound that it’s about to play, followed by the actual sound. On the iPhone or iPad, you’ll get a “Siri Knowledge” response showing a small image and the name of the sound in question, with the audio clip below. You can tap the play button to listen to the audio clip, or tap the actual animal or object name to bring up the full Siri Knowledge entry.

It also seems likely that Siri’s results may be at least somewhat regional. While the aforementioned moose vs. elk example would belie this (they’re most definitely called “moose” in Canada; “elk” is the European name), a request for the sound of a firetruck had Siri coming back with the response that “A fire engine from Canada sounds like this” before playing the actual sound.

Vehicle sounds also appear to be the most limited of all. “Firetruck” works, but “ambulance” and “police car” just turn up web results.

Lastly, asking “What does the fox say?” won’t give you an actual animal sound, so if you want to hear what an actual fox sounds like, you’ll need to ask “What does a fox sound like?”

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