Okay these are my problem scenarios:

1) I'm cooking something and my hands are covered in animal fat. I'm listening to a podcast on my iPhone, which is sat on a counter nearby. It's been playing for some time so the display has turned itself off. Someone comes in and asks me something and I need to pause it quickly, then play it again when the person has gone.

2) I'm listening to an audiobook and the chapter ends. It's a good point to stop listening and go do something else. By the time I've reached for my phone, swiped to unlock it, opened the app and tapped pause, the next chapter has started and the story has now stopped mid-sentence.

So basically, isn't there some solution for these important first world problems? I don't like using headphones all the time, so a headphone-based remote control is not a solution for me.


The WATCH has been released since this question was posted. If you’re open to buying one, you can of course play and pause by speaking to it. “Hey Siri, Play/Pause.”

Even without an WATCH, starting with iOS 8 your iPhone can also respond to “Hey Siri.” The feature is enabled by going into SettingsSiri. Enable both Siri and Allow “Hey Siri”.

On the iPhone 6s and above (including iPhone SE), the low-power M9 motion coprocessor allows this feature to be invoked at any time (provided the phone is not face down on the table, or in your pocket).

Earlier models can activate the feature while plugged in to a power source.

“Hey Siri” will allow you to start playing music without touching your iPhone.

Stopping it is trickier, and requires the volume to be turned down very, very low. You have other options, of course, such as Control Center, Lock Screen Music Controls, Today Widgets (depending on the app) and manually invoking Siri by long-pressing the Home button.

It’s also worth mentioning that the built-in Music app prevents the screen from locking if music is playing while the iPhone is plugged in to a power source. The display will dim after a while, but a simple tap will light it back up without asking you to unlock it. Other apps may do the same.

  • *iPhone 6, not 6s.
    – DonielF
    Apr 21 '17 at 20:05
  • 3
    Always-on “Hey, Siri” was made possible by the M9 motion coprocessor, introduced in iPhone 6s.
    – user11633
    Apr 21 '17 at 20:21
  • 3
    @DonielF SE has the 6s internals, not sure what you mean by ‘6 minus’. The 6 (like other devices without M9) only supports Hey Siri when connected to power, aka the always-on Hey Siri which is what Phong said in their comment.
    – grg
    Apr 21 '17 at 21:10

This remote control appears to connect to the Bluetooth in your phone in order to be able to control it's audio output.

You could also purchase a dock with a remote for your iPhone. A remote of this nature would have a hardware Play/Pause button on it which you could press to quickly stop the music.

For the sake of example: I found this so you can get a picture of what I'm talking about.

One other thing: double tapping the home button when the iPhone is locked comes up with Play/Pause controls which you could tap with your knuckle or something. This is also a fast and easy way to change tracks in general.

  • Thanks! But do you know of any docks which don't need to be plugged-in for the remote control to work?
    – Nicolas
    Nov 6 '12 at 22:09
  • Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any battery operated docks. That doesn't mean they don't exist though. However, I would be surprised, because most docks charge your iPhone while it is attached. If it does work for you to get power, this dock and remote is really nice. store.apple.com/us/product/MC746LL/A/apple-universal-dock For a minute (as evidenced by my answer edits) I thought the Apple Remote would work with just your iPhone, but that was incorrect. Nov 6 '12 at 22:28
  • What about this? jr.com/satechi/pe/HCE_STBTRM1 Nov 6 '12 at 22:29
  • the double-tapping home button suggestion is an especially good one. It's the fastest way to stop or start audio without some additional hardware. I wish they'd make the audio controls visible on the lockscreen without the double tap. Nov 7 '12 at 0:48
  • The Satechi remote control looks perfect (especialy after reading reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-57446822-233/…). Thank you very much!
    – Nicolas
    Nov 17 '12 at 16:57

I use the Take Five app to make pausing music or podcasts extremely simple.


You get the default 5 minute pause and the music will resume, but you can drag the slider to many more minutes if desired.


Use a stylus to double tap the home button, then press pause with the stylus. They can be bought cheaply. Your greasy fingers only touch the stylus, not the phone. The tip of the stylus that touches the phone stays clean. You might have some trouble if your hands are dripping wet and you want to keep the phone dry, but it will work if your hands are covered with animal fat or other things you don't want to get on the phone. Two taps to the home button, one tap to the pause button. You should be able to pause in about one second. Wash the stylus along with the dirty dishes when you are done cooking, and keep the stylus in the kitchen, ready to use.

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