How to Use iPhone for Turn-By-Turn Voice Navigation Directions with Siri

Jan 19, 2014 - 12 Comments

Turn By Turn Voice Directions with Siri and the iPhone Voice turn by turn navigation and directions are incredibly convenient and easily one of the best features of Apple Maps, but rather than fumbling around with your iPhone while driving, you can rely entirely on Siri. This makes turn-by-turn almost entirely hands free; you give Siri a voice command to start the directions, and then you get the exact navigation spoken to you through Siri as exits approach and roads change. Going further, you can use a dash mount and car charger to transform your iPhone into a dashboard mounted GPS navigator.

Turn By Turn Voice Directions with Siri on iPhone

Get Turn-By-Turn Voice Directions Spoken to you from Siri

Turn-by-turn voice navigation from Siri works amazingly well while driving. Here is how you can use it on your next trip:

  1. While driving, summon Siri (by holding the Home button, headphones button, or a car button if you have integration) as usual
  2. Issue a command to Siri using the following language:
    • Give me directions to [location]
    • Give me directions to [city]
    • Give me directions to [address]
  3. Wait a moment for Siri to start giving turn-by-turn navigation, starting from your current location

Get voice directions and turn by turn navigation on iPhone

Yes it’s really that easy, and really that responsive. Depending on where you need to go, you can be extremely vague or very specific about the directions you want to get from Siri. Saying “Give directions to Los Angeles” works just as well to get driving directions from the GPS detected current location, as does “Give directions to 2184 West Macaroni Turtle road in San Francisco California”. Within seconds you’ll get voice directions spoken to you, informing you of upcoming turns and road names, all way ahead of time so you can get into the proper lanes for travel.

It’s a good idea to increase Maps directions volume beforehand if you can’t clearly hear everything, that way you don’t have to look at the maps and can just let Siri’s voice guide you.

Ending Voice Navigation with Siri

Got where you want to go, changed the destination, or maybe you just want Siri to hush it and stop giving directions? Just tell her to stop:

  • Summon Siri again, and say “Stop Navigation”

Stop voice navigation on the iPhone

You can always restart navigation by asking Siri for directions to a location again.

While some users may just use this feature just occasionally, GPS and voice navigation are so handy that you’ll probably end up wanting to use it often, particularly when you’re visiting new locations or regions you are unfamiliar with. For the frequent users, it’s best to make a small investment in a Lightning adapter car charger for the iPhone (or iPad) so that the iPhone stays charged constantly while using GPS, which is a battery intensive task. Additionally, you’ll likely want to get a dashboard mount unit, which keeps the iPhone high on the car dashboard so that you can keep your eyes on the road, and also better comply with many local laws surrounding smartphone usage and driving. Fortunately, both are cheap.

Turning the iPhone into a Dash Mounted GPS Navigator

If you intend on using the iPhones Turn-By-Turn voice navigation often, getting a few accessories to mount the iPhone onto a cars dashboard and provide continual power are highly recommended. Yes, in a pinch you can just prop up an iPhone against your windshield or in a cup holder, but the experience is greatly improved with a dash mount, and your battery will thank you when it has a constant power source.

The car charger plugs into a standard car power port where the lighter would go, and the dash mount shown below uses suction to stick to the dashboard or adhere to a windshield.

iPhone car dash mounted for navigation

For those with tons of USB Lightning chargers laying around, something like a Dual USB car charger works well too, the primary benefit is it has two generic USB ports which lets you charge anything that uses USB, whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, or Android. I use one of these, but if I only had a single device to worry about charging I’d go for the aforementioned direct car charger.

Obviously if you’re using the voice navigator for walking or biking, you won’t need the car charger or the dashboard mount, but do keep a watchful eye on the battery usage, as GPS usage and keeping the screen on constantly really depletes the iPhone battery rather quickly.

Troubleshooting Voice Navigation

Voice nav usually works fine, but if it’s not working go through the following checklist:

  • Be sure Siri understood your request, speak clearly and concisely
  • Check that iPhone (or iPad) has an active data connection on a 3G / 4G /LTE network
  • Device should have iOS 7.0 or newer
  • Device must have Siri support
  • Device must support Maps Turn-By-Turn Directions (free apps are available for older iPhones that don’t support native iOS navigation)
  • Location Services must be enabled for Apple Maps and for Siri
  • Flip AirPlane Mode ON and OFF to reconnect to a data network

The only time I’ve had trouble with Siri’s voice navigation was when trying to use it in an area with poor reception, when the iPhone was cycling between EDGE, GPRS (the circle icon that sometimes shows up in the status bar alongside reception indicator), and no reception at all. While turn-by-turn will work fine traveling through deadzones like that, you won’t be able to effectively summon new directions, since there isn’t a sufficient cellular connection to use.

Grab your car keys and iPhone, ask Siri for some directions, and happy travels!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks

12 Comments

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  1. Peter says:

    I use the voice directions all the time while driving in unfamiliar places or new parts of town, I don’t even have a dash mount I just stuff the iPhone in my cup holder and use an AUX cable to have it speak through the speakers. I would recommend the power adapter either way though, it’s a big battery sucker.

    BTW if you aren’t convinced of Apple Maps abilities, Google Maps also has voice directions which are excellent. You can’t launch them from Siri like this, but you can open them from Google Now, or just get the voice navigation directly from the iOS Google Maps app.

  2. Martin says:

    I recently got my first iPhone and appreciate all these great tips. However, they’ve led me to a question I can’t seem to find the answer for – hope you guys can help. The language (menus, labels etc) is set to english as I despise the often terrible translations to danish. But for spoken directions, I would prefer danish as that makes the names for streets etc a lot easier to understand. Is there any way at all to have the directions in a different language than that of the phone itself ?
    I can only get directions in english, but my girlfriend who has set her phone to danish, also gets the directions in danish.

  3. Paul Bardsley says:

    Sounds good! Does this work with UK postcodes anyone?

  4. Adam says:

    Is there a way to show GPS Speed when traveling? (Under apple’s terms of use they/apple collects “speed data” – hence the red dots when there is traffic)

  5. Pauld says:

    I suppose this would also work for walking trips (pedestrian mode)?

  6. IanB says:

    Superior to either “Apple Maps” or “Google Maps”, at least in my experience, is the “Waze” app.
    It is a free map and road navigation application which uses inputs from multiple users of the roads in real-time, so that the application advises you on the best routes to take in order to avoid traffic delays.
    The voice is available in a wide choice range of languages (I use it in Norwegian).
    It works fine irrespective of traffic, and in addition the more people who use it in a particular location, the better the information is regarding traffic.

  7. Mike Huntoon says:

    The ONLY thing I don’t like about Apple Maps is that I can’t find a way to have it pause the music/podcast I’m listening to as it gives the Turn-by-Turn directions. Ideally, it would pause what I’m listening to and then re-start the audio once it’s finished giving the directions. 1st world problem, for certain, but I do find it annoying.

  8. Mike Vaughan says:

    Is there a way to specify a route via one or more intermediate points?

  9. Bill says:

    I like the article, however, the map and directions shown with the “Give me directions to Los Angeles” are incorrect. San Luis Obispo is north/west of Los Angeles and therefore turning right onto US 101 will take you away from Los Angeles not to that city. Is this an editorial mistake or a bug with Apple Maps?

    • Paul says:

      Great catch. The Apple Maps directions are fine going to LA and other cities, the screen shot shown is for demonstration purposes, but yes it does show heading north on 101.

  10. Paul Horn says:

    Be careful of mounting an iPhone on the windshield on a sunny day. In a long drive the phone can overheat.

  11. Rod Speed says:

    It’s better to say Go To, quicker to say

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