What is voice control?

  • What is voice recognition in your car?
  • How does it work?
  • Parkers explains the tech

Voice control allows the driver to operate a car’s functions through speaking instructions instead of using the physical buttons on the dashboard.

How does it work?

In most cars where voice recognition is fitted, there’s a button on the steering wheel which activates the voice control system and allows the driver to speak commands instead of using the infotainment system. It can be used to control features such as the sat-nav, radio and media or phone (through the car’s Bluetooth connection).

In some cars there will be specific phrases displayed for you to use depending on what you want to do, for example starting with ‘navigation’, followed by ‘enter destination’ and so on. The voice control system will respond at each point to confirm it has understood correctly.

Some cars will learn the driver’s voice over time and understand phrases and words that make it easier to use, while others are being developed to be able to respond to requests such as ‘I want a coffee’ – it’ll then give you your options as to where you’ll be able to find one nearby.

While some are more effective than others, voice recognition is being increasingly utilised in cars in order to boost convenience and safety for the driver – less time will be spent fiddling with buttons or touchscreens, and instead both hands can be kept on the wheel and eyes kept on the road.

Where it isn’t fitted and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are, their respective voice command systems (such as Siri) can be used instead.

>> How to add Alexa to your car

Do I need it?

That comes down to personal preference and the availability of speech recognition systems in particular cars, but the best systems do make life much easier. For example, Ford’s SYNC systems are becoming more advanced with every update and are very slick to use.

Also known as

Voice recognition, speech control, speech recognition

Similar to

Infotainment, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions