Voice controls have been part of Sky's arsenal since Sky Q launched back in 2016. Since then, its skills – as well as Sky's offerings – have become much more advanced. We all know the basics – you can change channel, find films and TV shows and load your recordings, all by speaking. But it can do a lot more than that...
Here are seven lesser-known things you can do with Sky voice controls.
7 lesser-known features of Sky voice control
1. Watch the Women's World Cup
The tournament is soon to reach the knockout stages, and with the Lionesses riding high, now is the perfect time to start watching, if you haven't already. Admittedly the time difference doesn't help – the tournament takes place in Australia and New Zealand, so games regularly kick off at 8am UK time. But if you're able to take time off work/skive, then Sky has made it easier than ever to find coverage of the tournament.
It has created a host of trigger phrases including "Women's World Cup", "Lionesses" or "It's coming home" – bark one at your Sky service, and you'll be taken to a new destination page with live games, highlights, catch up and league tables. It includes coverage from the BBC, ITV and Sky Sports, all collected in one place. Shame it can't do anything about the time difference.
2. Turn on subtitles
Struggling to keep up with what the characters are saying? It's not you getting old – dialogue really is more packed in nowadays. If anything, it's a sign you're young at heart, as 18-25-year-olds are more likely to watch with subtitles than any other age group. All the cool people are doing it.
Turning them on is easy as pie. Just say "Turn on subtitles" and your bidding will be done. If only following the dialogue was as simple...
3. Get recommendations
"Apparently there's this new show called Succession. Have you heard of it? Supposed to be pretty good."
If this sounds like any of your friends or relatives, you need to look elsewhere for viewing recommendations. Thankfully, Sky's recommendations engine knows what you've watched and will serve up shows and films similar to that. That's no guarantee you'll like what it recommends, of course – how many people enjoyed both Barbie and Oppenheimer, which are about as different tonally as it's possible to get? – but at least it won't attempt to clue you in on something you've written the book on.
To see what Sky thinks you'll like, just say "What should I watch?" It'll scour your viewing history to find similar content, and push new arrivals from the likes of Netflix and Prime Video. Speaking of which...
4. See what's new
When it comes to TV content, we are truly living in the age of abundance. In the 12 months to February 2022, 817,000 individual TV shows became available to choose from, according to Nielsen's State of Play report. That's nearly a million pieces of TV content available to view on linear TV and streaming services. No wonder we're feeling a bit overwhelmed.
In this deluge of content, new shows can tend to pass by unnoticed. That's why you need this voice command. Say "New series" or "Go to new series", and you'll be presented with the hottest new shows on the platform.
5. Filter out the chaff
Now let's be honest, not everything on TV is a bona fide five-star classic. (Look at this lot.) That's why you need some quality control. We all know you can voice search by title, genre, director, actor and so on, but did you know you can also search by star rating? Say "Five-star movies" or "Movies rated five stars", and you'll be presented with the best cinematic offerings available. And not an Adam Sandler flick in sight.
6. Find 4K content
You're reading What Hi-Fi?, so you must be a discerning viewer. Hence you'll want the best picture quality around. Sky lets you search by picture quality, including SD (just... why?), HD and 4K. Just say "Ultra HD" and it'll serve up the latest offerings in katana-sharp 4K.
7. Open a music playlist
Yes, you can open apps just by saying their name, which makes it easier to load YouTube, Netflix, iPlayer et al. But did you know that list includes Spotify too? Just say the app's name and you can start streaming your music playlists and podcasts to your Sky set-up. Just make sure you have a decent soundbar or home cinema system to help with the sound quality.
Sky voice control FAQ
Which Sky devices have voice controls?
What's the difference between Sky Q, Sky Glass and Sky Stream?
Sky Q is the oldest of the three, and uses the traditional set-top box to deliver Sky TV through a satellite dish. Sky Glass and Sky Stream bring you Sky TV over the internet. They have pretty much the same features, but Glass and Stream don't have a hard drive so you can't store recordings locally – instead, you get a Playlist where you can store things to watch later.
Sky Q uses a slightly older user interface, whereas Glass and Stream have the newer Entertainment OS, which look a bit snazzier. While Glass and Stream use the same software, they have different hardware – Glass is built into a TV that you have to buy, whereas Stream uses a streaming 'puck' much like an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Apple TV device.
How do I activate voice control on Sky?
With Sky Q and Sky Stream, press and hold the microphone button on your remote, then speak your order. Sky Glass has mics built into the TV itself, so you can just say "Hello Sky..." followed by your command. You can turn this off in the settings if you don't like the idea of your TV always listening to you. Then you'll have to use the remote's mic button to activate voice commands.
Sky Stream vs Sky Q: what are the differences? Which is better?
Sky Glass vs Sky Q: which Sky service is right for you?