vocaliconWhen the original iPhone was released, it had no third-party apps, no voice control, no games, and no to-do list -- among many other things. But it was still revolutionary, completely different than what came before, and over time many of its shortcomings were addressed by hardware and software updates.

The same is true of Siri now. It has very little in the way of third-party integration, and there are many things that it cannot do -- but there is much promise. One piece of evidence to this future potential is Vocal, a new app that allows voice control of a Mac from a Siri-equipped iPhone 4S.

Vocal works by pairing a free application that installs on the Mac with a $1.99 app that is downloaded from the App Store. It allows the user to send commands and dictate text straight to the Mac, using the voice recognition feature on the iPhone 4S.

Lex Friedman at Macworld used his copy of Vocal to "control iTunes; send emails and tweets; look up definitions; select, copy, and paste text; search Amazon and Google; print; and create new documents." He reports that some commands are more successful than others, but on the whole:

Vocal is definitely cool. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper way to get your Mac to take dictation. Its support for other actions is a mixed bag; some work well, some don’t. If nothing else, Vocal proves that Siri—natively—on the Mac could be nothing short of remarkable.


The app updates its library of commands over the air, making updates and new feature additions easy for Vocal's creator, Matthew Roberts. He explained the thinking behind the software to The Next Web:

Vocal came essentially from playing with Siri on my new 4S as a sort of “novelty” as I just acquired the device, and since I use my Mac so much I wanted to see if I could write a Siri-like app for it. After looking around the only main competitor was the software from Nuance, but it was over 1GB to download and cost upwards of $50. Considering the 4S can already dictate text, I thought I could make a super simple app “for the masses”, I guess you could say.

Vocal is available for the iPhone 4S on the App Store for $1.99 [Direct Link] and the free companion app for the Mac is available directly from Vocal's website.

Top Rated Comments

Nobita Avatar
123 months ago
Wow, this is really slick. It won't be long until you can say: "Send this excel file to my boss and protect it with his public key".
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tarasis Avatar
123 months ago
inb4 it's removed because it hurts the sales of Nuances non-free products available for Mac.
Ah misread - thought you where referring to a user "inb4" as opposed to short cutting the English.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jclardy Avatar
123 months ago
Even if you did have a lot of time, why would you want to go through all of this?

I'll be waiting for Apple's implementation of Siri on the mac. This is cool, but it needs to be integrated deeper into the OS to become more useful.

As a developer it will be nice to be able to be typing code and say, "Siri, look up the documentation for this class" and have it find it for me without me having to move my hands from the keyboard. Also for issue tracking, being able to say something like, "Siri, add a new issue to my current project named ..." and have it create a new issue on GitHub or whatever you use. By doing it off the top of your head you don't lose your train of thought as you open a browser, navigate to the project, open the issue tracker and type out the issue. Also it would be great for commenting code as you are typing it.

Of course this will take a lot of third party integration but it will be there one day soon.

Rather than having my voice commands being the primary interface, I would want it to be in the background, doing the menial tasks that would otherwise distract from the task at hand.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MarkMS Avatar
123 months ago
Now I need to upgrade to a 4S! Damn, this would go nicely with my Mac Mini HTPC. I would use it to download files, play music or whatever without having to turn on my TV. Then when I want to watch something, just tell it to open up Safari for Hulu or Netflix.

Search American Dad on Netflix, play Season 2 Episode 5. *drool
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Keebler Avatar
123 months ago
worth the $2!

even if you just use this to dictate text to emails or docs, it's worth the $2.

I've been looking for this functionality.

Sure, it's not perfect, but give it time.

A solid 1st time go around however!

Great app!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tarasis Avatar
123 months ago
That looks surprisingly neat and for $2 hard to resist trying out.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
apple park drone june 2018 2

Apple Fires Newly Hired Ex-Facebook Product Manager Following Revelations of Past Misogynistic Comments

Thursday May 13, 2021 12:10 am PDT by
Apple has fired Antonio García Martínez, an ex-Facebook product manager and author of the controversial book "Chaos Monkeys," following public and internal calls for removal and investigation due to past misogynistic statements, The Verge reports. Apple hired Martínez earlier this week to join its ads team, however, comments that Martínez made in the past sparked condemnation from users...
imac m1 blue isolated 16x9 500k

M1 iMac is Up to 56% Faster Than Prior-Generation High-End 21.5-Inch iMac

Wednesday May 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Apple's M1 iMacs are set to start delivering to customers next week, and ahead of the official launch day, benchmarks for the machines have been showing up on Geekbench, likely from reviewers who are testing them. It will come as no surprise that M1 iMac benchmarks are right on par with benchmarks for the M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, coming in with an average single-core score...
2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
fortnite apple logo 2

Judge in Epic vs. Apple Case Floats Potential Compromise

Wednesday May 12, 2021 3:54 pm PDT by
In the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the two companies are this week calling up their expert witnesses to argue their points before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will make a decision in the case after a three week trial. Expert testimony is not as exciting as some of the leaked App Store documents that were highlighted last week, especially as much of what's being...
google photos

PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

Thursday May 13, 2021 5:26 am PDT by
For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article...
AirTag in Envelope Feature 2

AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK

Wednesday May 12, 2021 8:44 am PDT by
An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city. Outlined in a blog post at Intego, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of...
m1 ipad pro chip

M1 iPad Pro Over 50% Faster Than Previous Generation in Early Benchmarks

Tuesday May 11, 2021 11:56 am PDT by
Last month, Apple introduced a new iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, and early benchmark results indicate that the M1 iPad Pro is over 50% faster than the previous-generation iPad Pro. Based on five legitimate Geekbench 5 results (here's the fifth) for the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the M1 chip, the device has average single-core and multi-core scores of...
prosser macbook air colors stacked

Images Reveal Colorful New MacBook Air Design

Tuesday May 11, 2021 5:06 am PDT by
Apple's next MacBook Air will feature a completely new design and come in a range of colors like the 24-inch iMac, according to leaker Jon Prosser, who has now released supposedly accurate renders of the new machines based on leaked images. In a new video uploaded to YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser elaborated on his previous prediction that Apple's next-generation MacBook Air models ...
iPhone 13 Camera Backs

iPhone 13 Models Will Be Slightly Thicker and Will Have Larger Camera Bumps

Monday May 10, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 models will be slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 models and will also feature larger, thicker camera bumps with lenses that protrude less, according to iPhone 13 schematics seen by MacRumors. The new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models are expected to feature a thickness of 7.57mm, up from 7.4mm in the iPhone 12 models. That's an increase of 0.17mm, which won't be hugely ...