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I'm considering purchasing a Bluetooth portable speaker that has a built-in omnidirectional microphone.

The advertising for the product says that the microphone can be used to "make calls" from a mobile device.

However, I can't find out from the support pages if the microphone is "always on", or if it's just used for Call Audio Routing – as in iOS's Settings > General > Accessibility > Call Audio Routing.

My aim, ultimately, is to use the Bluetooth speaker for playing audio from my iOS device, but also to use it as an always-on microphone that can accept "Hey Siri" voice detection commands.

Basically – an "Amazon Echo" device, but consisting of an iPad + Bluetooth speaker instead.

Is "Hey Siri" detection normally possible with mic-equipped Bluetooth speakers?


Specific case: I'm looking at a Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1.

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After just testing your idea out with my B&O H7 Headphones (that have a mic built in for calls) I can say that Hey Siri didn't work for me unless I was right next to my phone (which means the device's microphone picked it up) Siri's voice didn't even get routed out to the headphones and I've checked and the headphones are the current audio output device. Changing call audio routing has no effect.

  • Yes, it does seem like Siri is always "proprietary" to the iOS device. For instance, when playing audio over AirPlay to a speaker, if I start Siri she will start speaking on the iOS device and not on the speaker. I wasn't able to try it with Blueooth instead of AirPlay since I don't have a Bluetooth speaker. Thanks. – Winterflags Jul 10 '16 at 16:19
  • Perhaps something like this could be used to get an omni-directional microphone to pick up voice queries and then you could send the audio out via AUX to a pair of speakers. That would make for an Amazon Echo alternative for a rainy day. However, the iPad built-in microphone is quite good, so it's not really necessary. It's just a shame that her voice output is local to the device. – Winterflags Jul 10 '16 at 16:26
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    As a side note. I am able to have Siri's audio routed out to my car's Bluetooth audio and the built in mic for hands free in my car does get through to Siri. So with very specific devices it is possible though the only difference being that it is a different vendor, my headphones and my car would be both leveraging the hands free Bluetooth profile which is standard. – David Baverstock Jul 10 '16 at 16:30
  • I think the key difference though is how Bluetooth profiles are prioritised. With no control over that I'd say your hands free Siri experience is a crapshoot at best. Really it's a case of trying it with each and every device. – David Baverstock Jul 10 '16 at 16:33
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    Further reading on this suggests this is the case. The Bluetooth device in question needs to be primarily for calls, then A2DP media streaming, otherwise Siri isn't routed properly most of the time. Also further testing on my part has now got Siri routed through to my headphones but Hey Siri still isn't working. I didn't make any changes other than disconnecting and reconnecting the Bluetooth connection between my iPhone and H7's – David Baverstock Jul 10 '16 at 16:41
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To corroborate, my BT speaker-with-mic (a FuGoo) and BT-capable car (a 2012 Mazda) will will route microphone input and speaker output to Siri, but only if she's summoned by button press (long press of the play/pause button on the speaker, long-press of the iPhone's home button in the car). Neither will work with "Hey Siri". I suspect that one obstacle is that neither device has its microphone continuously listening - they are only activated when needed (a call comes in or you trigger Siri manually).

I suspect if a BT speaker manufacturer could make "Hey Siri" work, they'd be sure to list it in their list of advertising bullet points.

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The upcoming devices with Apple W1 chip might be able to achieve this...

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