Cantonese on iPhone & iPad

How to write, type, listen, dictate, and use Siri in Cantonese with your Apple iPhone or iPad.


Write

To input Chinese by Handwriting or strokes:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Chinese (Traditional)
  2. Select your preferences:

Now, wherever you see the keyboard, you can Hold the Globe icon ( 🌐 ) and select the keyboard you want.

Image showing the iOS Keyboard with the Globe pressed, to switch Keyboards.

Type

Typing in Cantonese Chinese (Yale, Jyutping) is not yet officially supported on iOS. Only Mandarin (Pinyin, Zhuyin, Shuangpin) is currently supported.

However, Third party keyboards can be used to type Cantonese on an iPhone or iPad. These include (in no particular order):

🙇 Please also consider asking Apple to add an official Cantonese keyboard to iPhones.


Dictate

*Note: These instructions are for devices running iOS 11 or higher.

To input Cantonese Chinese by speaking to your iPhone (Speech to Text):

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard
  2. Ensure “Enable Dictation” is On
  3. Select Dictation Languages
  4. Select Cantonese
Image showing Cantonese selected as a Dictation Language on iOS

Now, wherever you see the keyboard, you can hold the Dictation button ( ) and select Cantonese (粵語). You can also hold the Globe button ( 🌐 ) when dictating to change languages.

Image of iOS Cantonese Dictation Options overlay - on Chinese Handwriting Keyboard. Image of iOS Cantonese Dictation Options overlay - on Dictation Keyboard.

Note: You must have a default Chinese input method, before being able to dictate in Cantonese (see “Write” section).

Note 2: To use punctuation, you would say "問號" for "?", "感嘆號" for "!", and "句號" for "。".


Listen (TTS)

To get your iPhone to read out Cantonese Chinese text (Text To Speech):

  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech, and turn on “Speak Selection”. This will show a Speak button when text is selected.
  2. (Optional) You can also turn on “Speak Screen”. This allows you to hear the content of the screen when you swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen. Image of iOS Speech screen, with 'Speak Selection' and 'Speak Screen' on.
  3. Under Voices > Chinese, select "Chinese (Hong Kong)" iOS Voice Settings: Chinese Hong Kong, Sing-Ji voice selected.

Now you can get your iOS Device to speak Cantonese by highlighting text and selecting Speak.

iOS Speak Option for Chinese Cantonese text

Siri

  1. Go to Settings > Siri & Search > Language and select “Chinese (Cantonese - Hong Kong)”

Now you can use Siri in Cantonese.

Image of Siri on iPhone being asked to set a 7am alarm, in Cantonese Chinese.

Footnotes

Note: This document is written for devices running iOS 11 or higher. Instructions vary for older devices.

Note: For bilingual users, iOS11 has separated Siri, Dictation, and Region from each other - allowing for better bilingual usage (e.g. English and Cantonese).

If you have any questions or suggestions, please get in touch at: cantonese.tools@gmail.com